J Am Acad Audiol 2020; 31(04): 286-291
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.19032
Research Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Effects of Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Noise Exposure on Tinnitus Occurrence in College Students and Adolescents

Laurel Elise Money
1  University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama
Ishara Ramkissoon
1  University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama
2  University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, South Africa
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
15 April 2020 (online)


Background Recent research indicated that young adults and adolescents reported tinnitus in higher numbers than previously. Thus, it is important to fully investigate risk factors for tinnitus in adolescents and young adults.

Purpose The current study examined the influence of two environmental risk factors, secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure and noise exposure on tinnitus occurrence as self-reported by U.S. adolescents and young adults.

Research Design A nonexperimental, cross-sectional design was used for this survey study.

Study Sample Of 265 surveys received, 43 were excluded due to ineligibility. The remaining 222 surveys constituted the study sample. Participant respondents included 80 high school students (ages 14–17) and 142 college students (ages 18–30). The sample was primarily female (n = 160).

Data Collection and Analysis Three (3) yes/no survey questions regarding SHS exposure, noise exposure, and tinnitus occurrence were analyzed. Statistical analyses included logistic regression, chi-square follow-up tests, and Pearson bivariate correlation analysis.

Results Results revealed that 40% of young adults and adolescents surveyed reported that they experienced tinnitus. Regression analysis revealed significant main effects for noise (p = 0.004), gender (p = 0.017), and the interaction of SHS and noise (p = 0.001). There was no main effect of SHS exposure nor age on tinnitus occurrence. Follow-up chi-square analysis conducted to probe the gender effect revealed that females (45.1%) were more likely to experience tinnitus than males (27.7%). Chi-square testing to examine the significant interaction effect revealed statistical significance (p = 0.001) for individuals with reported noise exposure but not for individuals without noise exposure. In the noise-exposed group, individuals who also reported SHS exposure had a lower occurrence of tinnitus (23.6%). In contrast, the noise-exposed individuals without SHS exposure had a higher prevalence of tinnitus (57.9%). An additional chi-square follow-up analysis to examine the main effect of noise revealed no significance (p = 0.199). However, there was a significant (p < 0.01) negative correlation (r = -0.244) of noise exposure with age.

Conclusion The current study results suggest there is a higher than expected report of tinnitus incidence in adolescents and young adults. The relationship between tinnitus occurrence and a combined exposure to noise and secondhand smoke revealed a unique effect in adolescents and young adults.