Prevalence and Relationship of Olfactory Dysfunction and Tinnitus Among Middle- And Old-Aged Population in Korea

PLoS One. 2018 Oct 23;13(10):e0206328. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206328. eCollection 2018.


Olfactory dysfunction and tinnitus are age-related otorhinolaryngological disorders with a high prevalence in the elderly population and share several common clinical features. However, there is no study investigating the relationship between these two diseases. We studied the prevalence of olfactory dysfunction and tinnitus among Koreans and studied the relationship between these two diseases based on the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The subjects of this study were enrolled from the Fifth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2010-2012, n = 25,534). Data of subjects aged 40 years and older who underwent physical examination and completed a self-reported questionnaire and other anthropometric variables were statistically analyzed. Odds ratios were calculated to identify the relationship between olfactory dysfunction and tinnitus, using multiple logistic regression models. Older males, non-smokers, non/lower alcohol drinker groups exhibited the relationship between olfactory dysfunction and tinnitus. Metabolic syndrome and mental health problems were associated with both olfactory dysfunction and tinnitus. After adjusting for confounding factors, olfactory dysfunction was significantly associated with tinnitus (OR 1.318). There was a dose-response relationship between tinnitus severity and the odds of olfactory dysfunction (ORs for mild, moderate and severe tinnitus were, respectively, 1.134, 1.569 and 2.044). Additional molecular genetics and animal studies are needed to determine the shared pathophysiology of the two diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Olfaction Disorders / complications
  • Olfaction Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Olfaction Disorders / pathology
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus / complications
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology*
  • Tinnitus / pathology

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2017R1C1B1007454). This study was supported by the Soonchunhyang University Research Fund (URL: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.