Tinnitus and its associations with general health, mental health and hearing loss

Prog Brain Res. 2021;262:431-450. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2021.01.023. Epub 2021 Mar 29.


Background: A deeper knowledge of tinnitus is essential in order to better manage and treat tinnitus and its effects. Most studies to date are based on small samples and/or conducted in clinical settings. In this study we assessed the associations between tinnitus, general and mental health, hearing status and demographics in a large population cohort study.

Materials and methods: The Busselton Healthy Aging Study recruited people born between 1946 and 1964. Data were collected between 2010 and 2015. Logistic regression was used to examine the associations between tinnitus and its effect on daily life, age, gender, hearing, self-reported mental and general health, and doctor diagnosed health conditions.

Results: Of 5107 participants, 1154 (22.6%) reported experiencing tinnitus. Of those, 32.4% reported that their tinnitus had an occasional effect on their daily lives, while for a further 8.9% the effect on their daily life was frequent or constant. The odds ratio for having a SF12-PCS was (OR 1.02 (95%CI 1.01-1.03). Furthermore, individuals who experience their tinnitus as having an effect on their daily life, have an increased risk of having a lower general health (OR 1.04 (95%CI 1.02-1.03)) than those without tinnitus. Higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as doctor diagnosed depression, were all significant risk factors for tinnitus. There were statistically significant worse hearing thresholds related to the presence of tinnitus.

Conclusion: The outcomes raise the question for clinicians and researchers whether addressing the mental and general health of individuals will influence the presence or burden of tinnitus.

Keywords: General health; Mental health; Population study; Regression; Tinnitus.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hearing Loss* / complications
  • Hearing Loss* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Tinnitus* / epidemiology