Clin Exp Otorhinolaryngol.  2018 Sep;11(3):158-165. 10.21053/ceo.2017.01221.

Relationship Between Diet and Tinnitus: Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, SMG-SNU Boramae Medical Center, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


This study aimed to analyze the association between nutritional intake and tinnitus prevalence by evaluating a large cross-sectional cohort.
Data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected between 2013 and 2015 were analyzed. The study population consisted of 7,621 individuals aged 40 to 80 years with complete tinnitus-related data. Individuals with inadequate responses to tinnitus history, noise exposure in the work place, or subjective hearing loss were excluded. Prevalence of tinnitus and tinnitus-related annoyance, and nutrition intake were measured using this questionnaire, and associations between tinnitus and nutritional data were evaluated by binary logistic regression analysis.
Subjective tinnitus was reported by 1,435 individuals with subjective normal hearing (18.8%). Prevalence of tinnitus increased with age. However, among individuals with tinnitus, the proportion of individuals with tinnitus-related annoyance was similar across age groups. Older age, female sex, lower body mass index (BMI), and less vitamin B2 intake were significantly associated with tinnitus (P < 0.001, P=0.002, P=0.041, P=0.013, respectively). Vitamin B2 intake was significantly less in individuals with tinnitus who were middle-aged (ages 51-55 and 56-60 years, P=0.012 and P=0.020, respectively). Less intake of water, protein, and vitamin B3 were associated with tinnitus-related annoyance (P=0.038, P=0.009, and P=0.005, respectively). Prevalence of annoyance was significantly associated with less water intake in younger ages (age 45-55 years) but with less protein and vitamin B3 intake in older ages (age 66-80 years).
Reduced intake of vitamin B2 and B3, water, and protein may be associated with tinnitus and tinnitus-related annoyance, and further studies regarding the importance of adequate nutritional intake in the tinnitus management need to be performed.


Tinnitus; Riboflavin; Niacinamide; Nutritional Status

MeSH Terms

Body Mass Index
Cohort Studies
Hearing Loss
Logistic Models
Nutrition Surveys*
Nutritional Status


  • Fig. 1. Study population. Flow diagram of exclusions.

  • Fig. 2. Prevalence of tinnitus and proportion of annoying tinnitus according to age groups. Prevalence of tinnitus increases with age, whereas the proportion of tinnitus-related annoyance among individuals with tinnitus is not significantly affected by age.

  • Fig. 3. Association between tinnitus and vitamin B2 intake by age groups. Vitamin B2 intake is less in individuals with tinnitus at all ages; this difference was significant among those age 51–60 years. *P<0.05.

  • Fig. 4. Association between tinnitus-related annoyance and intake of water, protein, vitamin B3 intake. (A) Individuals with tinnitus-related annoyance (blue bars) had lower water intake than subjects without annoyance. The association between water intake and annoyance was significant in those middle aged (46–55 years). (B) Protein intake was lower in subjects with tinnitus-related annoyance. The difference was significant in older ages (66–80 years). (C) Vitamin B3 intake was less in individuals with tinnitus-related annoyance. The difference between individuals with and without annoyance was significant in older ages (66–70 and 76–80 years). Asterisks indicate statistical significance with P-value <0.05 and shadowed areas indicate statistical insignificance.


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