Warwick Williams & Lyndal Carter Tinnitus and leisure noise International Journal Of Audiology. Published online: 16 Nov 2016
Objective: To study the relationship of life-time noise exposure and experience of tinnitus.
Design: Audiometric measures included otoscopy, pure tone air- and bone-conduction hearing threshold levels (HTL) and otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). Participants completed questionnaires including demographic information, past hearing health, history of participation in loud leisure activities, and attitudes to noise.
Study sample: A representative sample (1435) of the young (11–35 years old) Australian population.
Results: Of the sample, 63% indicated they experienced tinnitus in some form. There was no correlation of tinnitus experience with HTL or OAE amplitudes. Although median octave band HTLs for those who experienced tinnitus “all the time” were slightly higher for those who did not, neither group exhibited HTLs outside clinically-normal values. Of those who experienced tinnitus a direct correlation was found between frequency of experience of tinnitus and increasing cumulative, life-time noise exposure. Those who experienced tinnitus were more likely to report noticing deterioration in their hearing ability over time and to report difficulty hearing in quiet and/or noisy situations.
Conclusions: Experience of tinnitus was found throughout this young population but not associated with HTLs or variation in OAE amplitudes. Males experienced ‘permanent’ tinnitus at significantly greater rate than females.