Psychiatric Distress as a Common Risk Factor for Tinnitus and Joint Pain: A National Population-Based Survey

Clin Exp Otorhinolaryngol. 2020 Aug;13(3):234-240. doi: 10.21053/ceo.2019.00563. Epub 2019 Dec 18.


Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between tinnitus and joint pain from representative samples of Koreans.

Methods: The demographics and the responses to a questionnaire about tinnitus and joint pain severity and mental health status of adults aged ≥50 years in the 2010-2012 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed.

Results: Among 9,032 individuals, 26.7% reported experiencing tinnitus within the past year. Participants with tinnitus were more frequently older, hearing loss, and had lower education levels, income, and body weight. Participants with regular exercise and sleep had a lower tinnitus prevalence. The incidences of stress, depressed mood, and suicidal ideation were significantly higher in the tinnitus group and participants with joint pain. The rates of participants with tinnitus according to the number of joint pain sites (zero, one, two, and three) was 22.1%, 31.4%, 33.3%, and 44.2%, and those of participants with severely annoying tinnitus according to the number of joint pain sites (zero, one, two, and three) were 3.3%, 6.8%, 7.9%, and 10.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: Tinnitus prevalence and severity were significantly related to joint pain, and both conditions were related to psychiatric distress. Thus, the authors suggest that psychiatric distress as a common risk factor for tinnitus and joint pain should be considered when deciding treatment strategies and in guiding public health policy.

Keywords: Anxiety; Arthralgia; Comorbidity; Depression; Tinnitus.