In Nigeria, tinnitus affects between 10% and 33% of the population. Tinnitus is common among elderly Nigerians and is mostly associated with treatable health conditions like otitis media, rhinosinusitis, head injury and hypertension, according to a study published in the scientific publication Otolaryngoly.
The study included face-to-face interviews of 1,302 elderly people aged 65 years and over; age, sex, economic status or residence were not associated with the occurrence of tinnitus. The researchers found a significant difference between the prevalence of tinnitus among "young elderly" subjects aged 65-69 (6.5%), and the older (80+ years) group (41.9 %).
"Our results are of potential value in the overall consideration of the health consequence of ageing in this setting, especially given the projections of a rapid increase in the proportion of the elderly in developing countries," said study author Akeem Olawale Lasisi.
Poor research attention
In spite of its public health significance, tinnitus among the elderly has received poor research attention in Sub-Saharan Africa where, with relatively poor access to health service, etiologically important medical conditions that would otherwise be readily treated could become chronic and increase vulnerability to tinnitus.
In the study, the authors focused on subjective tinnitus; in selecting risk factors to study, they speculated that the presence of chronic recurrent rhinosinusitis may lead to eustachian tube dysfunction, hence middle ear pressure dysregulation and tinnitus. In addition, chronic medical conditions predisposing to arteriosclerosis have been considered as correlates because when untreated or complicated (as often found in this area), they might lead to hypoperfusion of the cochlear and dysregulation of inner ear fluid dynamics, which could then cause tinnitus.
Source: October 2010 issue of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, American Academy of Otolaryngology and