09 March 2023

Traffic noise exposure increases the risk of tinnitus

The more you are exposed to traffic noise, the higher the risk you have of developing tinnitus, a study finds.
Traffic noise exposure increases the risk of tinnitus

Noise from a nearby busy road increases your stress levels and affects your sleep. If you are under stress and have a poor sleep, you are at a higher risk of developing tinnitus.

Tinnitus – also known as ringing ears – is noises inside the head.

A study using data from 3.5 million Danes shows that the more traffic noise Danish residents are exposed to in their homes, the more they are at risk of developing tinnitus. Exposure to road noise and tinnitus was closely related. But the study found no association between railway noise and tinnitus.

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The study was carried out by researchers from the Department of Clinical Research and the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

It is the first time that researchers have found a link between residential traffic noise exposure and hearing-related outcomes.

More noise - more tinnitus

“In our data, we have found more than 40,000 cases of tinnitus and can see that for every ten decibels more noise in people's homes, the risk of developing tinnitus increases by 6%,” says Manuella Lech Cantuaria, PhD., Assistant Professor at the Maersk Mc-Kinney-Moeller Institute and affiliated to the Department of Clinical Research at SDU.

In 2021, she and her colleague Jesper Hvass Schmidt, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Research and Chief Physician at Odense University Hospital (OUH), also found a correlation between traffic noise and dementia.

In the study, higher associations were found when noise was measured at the quiet side of their houses, that is, the side facing away from the road. This is where most people would place their bedroom whenever possible, therefore researchers believe this is a better indicator of noise during sleep.

Modelled road traffic and railway noise

The nationwide cohort study included all residents in Denmark aged 30 and older. 40,692 were diagnosed with tinnitus. The study modelled road traffic and railway noise at the most exposed façades of all Danish addresses from 1990 until 2017. For all participants, the study calculated time-weighted mean noise exposure.

The study, "Transportation Noise and Risk of Tinnitus: A Nationwide Cohort Study from Denmark", was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Sources: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov and https://www.news-medical.net

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