Hearing management

18 February 2010

Tinnitus Not Usually an Inherited Condition

Study of thousands of families finds no consistent genetic link.


This article has not necessarily been edited by Health24.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) isn't a highly inherited disorder, Norwegian researchers conclude.

While tinnitus has been reported to cluster in families, little is known about the role that genes play in the condition.

In the new study, researchers analyzed data gathered from almost 13,000 spouses, more than 27,600 parents and offspring, and close to 11,500 siblings. A subgroup of more than 28,000 people completed a second questionnaire designed to collect more information about tinnitus.

About 20.9 percent of the study participants reported definite or probable tinnitus symptoms. The researchers found no indication that tinnitus is passed down through families.

"Our results do not necessarily mean that genetic effects are unimportant for all forms of tinnitus, because this symptom can arise from a wide variety of underlying diseases," wrote Dr. Ellen Kvestad, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, and Akershus University Hospital, and colleagues.

"Considering the [varied] origin of tinnitus, rather than searching for the genes responsible for tinnitus in general, future investigators need to identify subgroups of individuals affected by tinnitus with specific causes," the group wrote. "Our results do not support the spending of large amounts of time and resources to identify the genes that code for tinnitus in general."

The study appears in the February issue of the journal Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

More information

The American Tinnitus Association has more about tinnitus.


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Francis Slabber is a Speech & Language Therapist and Audiologist who has owned and run The Hearing Clinic in Wynberg, Cape Town for the last 17 years. Francis and her team have extensive experience in fitting and supplying hearing aids as well as assistive living devices. Francis has served as the Western Cape Chairperson for the South African Association of Audiologists for three years and has given many talks on the topic of hearing loss and amplification. The Hearing Clinic has a special interest in adult and geriatric hearing impairment, hearing aid fittings and hearing rehabilitation.

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