A Cross-Sectional Study of the Prevalence and Factors Associated With Tinnitus and/or Hyperacusis in Children

Susanne Nemholt*, Jesper Hvass Schmidt, Niels Wedderkopp, David M Baguley

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of tinnitus and/or hyperacusis in Danish children aged 10 to 16 years, and to assess associations between tinnitus or hyperacusis and other relevant factors.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study based on a previously established child cohort. A total of 501 children were enrolled in the project. The study was performed in eight mainstream schools and data were collected during an 8-week period from October 27, 2014 to December 16, 2014.

RESULTS: Using broad tinnitus research questions, the prevalence of any tinnitus was 66.9%; of noise-induced tinnitus (NIT) was 35.7%; and of spontaneous tinnitus (ST) was 53.7%. Bothersome tinnitus was reported by 34.6% of the children with any tinnitus, 23.2% of the whole population. Few children were severely bothered (2.4%, 1.6%, respectively). It was significantly more common for children with NIT to report tinnitus episodes lasting for minutes or longer than for children with ST (p = 0.01). Girls were more likely than boys to be bothered by tinnitus [Odds ratio (OR) = 2.96; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.34 to 6.51; p = 0.01]. 14.6% of the children reported hyperacusis, and 72.6% of those reporting hyperacusis were bothered by it, 10.6% of the whole population. The odds of having hyperacusis were 4.73 (1.57, 14.21) times higher among those with ST compared with those without ST. Furthermore, hyperacusis was associated with sound avoidance behaviors such as experience of sound-induced pain in the ear (OR = 2.95, 95% CI 1.65 to 5.27; p < 0.001), withdrawal from places or activities (OR = 3.33; 95% CI 1.44 to 7.69; p = 0.01), or concerns about sound could damage the hearing (OR = 1.85, 95% CI 1.06 to 3.31; p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: Tinnitus and hyperacusis are common in children but prevalence is dependent on tinnitus definitions. Only a few children are severely bothered by tinnitus. In the case of hyperacusis, children may exhibit sound avoidance behavior.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEar and Hearing
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)344-355
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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