Nearly 15% of adults worldwide have symptoms of tinnitus

August 22, 2022 — More than 740 million adults worldwide have experienced at least one symptom of tinnitusand around 120 million are severely affected, according to a new report.

Tinnitus indicates the perception of buzzing, buzzing, hissing, rustling or hissing in the ears or head when no corresponding external sound is present. In its most severe form, which is associated with hearing losstinnitus can affect a patient’s mental, emotional and social health.

Researchers don’t have a clear indicator of the extent of the disease worldwide, or who suffers the most severe symptoms.

“Our estimates indicate that, globally, 1 in 7 adults reported suffering from tinnitus,” says Carlotta Micaela Jarach, study author and epidemiologist at the Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute in Milan, Italy..

“Severe tinnitus has been found in about 2% of the population,” she says.

The study was published in JAMA Neurology August 8.

Association with age

Jarach and his colleagues from several European universities conducted an extensive review of previous international research to estimate the worldwide prevalence and incidence of tinnitus, severe tinnitus, chronic tinnitus and diagnosed tinnitus.

They reviewed research published in 767 publications and then focused on prevalence and incidence estimates from 95 of the studies.

Combining the data from all these studies, the research team calculated that the estimated prevalence of any tinnitus in adults was 14.4%; The prevalence did not differ significantly by sex; it was about 14.1% for men and 13.1% for women.

But the prevalence differed by age, with an estimate of around 13.6% in children and adolescents. In adults, the prevalence increased with age, starting around 9.7% for 18-44 year olds and reaching 13.7% for 45-64 year olds, and 23.6%. % among those aged 65 and over.

Adult prevalence appears to differ considerably across continents, ranging from 5.2% in Africa to around 14% in Europe and North America and 21.9% in South America.

The prevalence of strict tinnitus in adults was 2.3% and 2.7% in children and adolescents.

Again, there was only a small difference between men and women, with 2.3% of men reporting severe tinnitus and 2.7% of women.

The prevalence of chronic tinnitus was 9.8% and that of diagnosed tinnitus was 3.4%.

A common disability

By converting the prevalence into numbers, the researchers found that 749 million adults worldwide had symptoms of tinnitus and around 120 million adults had severe symptoms.

“Major health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the Global Burden of Disease, should give due consideration to this disability, which appears to be present on par with other disabilities such as migraine, Back acheand hearing loss,” says researcher Silvano Gallus, PhD, director of the Lifestyle Epidemiology Laboratory at the Mario Negri Institute.

“We hope these findings will help raise awareness of the problem so that research into effective treatments for tinnitus can be accelerated,” he says.

No approved treatment

Tinnitus is considered a symptom of an underlying neurological condition. To date, there are no approved medications to treat tinnitus, although some therapies help people live with the symptoms.

“Tinnitus is a life-changing experience for many. Learning effective management strategies in a timely manner is key to coping with this difficult condition,” says Hashir Aazh, PhD, tinnitus audiologist and consultant for the audiology. department with the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust in the UK.

Aazh, who was not involved in this study, noted that the research team included a group of highly respected tinnitus researchers from several European countries.

The systematic nature of the review minimized the risk of bias, he added, which should help clinicians, researchers, policymakers and healthcare organizations trust the data.

The findings match previous studies, Aazh said, which indicate that about 14% of the world’s population experiences tinnitus at some point in their lives, and about 2% face severe symptoms.

“Understanding the prevalence of tinnitus is important because it can help healthcare organizations secure resources and plan the development of diagnostic and therapeutic services that can support patients who experience tinnitus,” said he declared.

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