A scoping review to catalogue tinnitus problems in children

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2019 Jul;122:141-151. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2019.04.006. Epub 2019 Apr 11.


Background: The reported prevalence of tinnitus in children is similar to that in adults. However, unlike adults, there is relatively little understanding of the tinnitus-related problems children experience. Knowledge of the problems experienced by adults has led to the development of numerous clinical questionnaires used by health professionals in assessment and treatment practices; to date no child-specific questionnaire measure of tinnitus has been developed. To support development of a questionnaire measure of tinnitus in children, the aim of this scoping review was to catalogue the peer-reviewed and grey scientific literature according to 1) the methods used to identify problems experienced by children with tinnitus, 2) tinnitus-related problems observed in or reported by children, and 3) research recommendations suggested by investigators with regards to tinnitus in children.

Methods: A scoping review was conducted following an established methodological framework. Records were included where a tinnitus-related problem was reported in a child 18 years or younger, and tinnitus was reported as the primary complaint. Tinnitus problems were extracted and categorised into problem themes.

Results: Thirty-five records met the inclusion criteria for this review. Methods used to identify tinnitus-related problems in children, and the number and range of problems reported, varied across the records. Symptom impact was summarised according to six problem themes; Physical health, Cognitive health, Hearing and listening, Emotional health, Quality of life, and Feeling different/isolated. Identified research recommendations highlighted a demand for more standardised approaches.

Conclusions: The findings evidence the detrimental impact tinnitus can have on a child's quality of life and emotional wellbeing. The current British Society of Audiology Tinnitus in Children Practice Guidance recommends management practices to address the most broadly reported problems identified in this review; sleep difficulties, emotional difficulties, and concentration and hearing problems at school. Given the finding of this review, we suggest problems relating to the impact of tinnitus on quality of life and feelings of isolation are also important problem domains to consider when managing a child who has tinnitus. Current variability in the approach to identifying children's tinnitus problems underlines the importance of developing a standardised and dedicated measure of tinnitus in children.

Keywords: Children; Paediatric; Problems; Tinnitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emotions
  • Health Status
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Symptom Assessment
  • Tinnitus / complications*