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November 2022
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Tinnitus in the Family

Researchers Look into Whether Tinnitus Can Be Inherited

Many conditions and diseases can be passed down from generation to generation. Is tinnitus one of them?

I hope you’ve had a chance to read my tinnitus report.  In it you’ll find some of the most in-depth information on the various treatments options available to help you quell the clamor that is tinnitus.

I bring up tinnitus today because there’s new research out that should come as good news for tinnitus sufferers, particularly those people with tinnitus that don’t want to pass it on to their kids.

In the majority of cases, tinnitus results when someone is exposed to ear-piercing sounds for any extended period of time.  But there has been growing speculation that tinnitus may be similar to other debilitating conditions, in that it can be passed down through genetic lines.  In other words, someone whose life was spent in places where you could hear a pin drop (if that were even possible) might “inherit” tinnitus.

But according to research published in the Archives of Otalaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, tinnitus is not an inherited condition.

Researchers came to this conclusion after reviewing the case files of over 13,000 married men and women, about 26,600 parents and their offspring, and another 11,500 brothers and sisters.  All of the participants filled out questionnaires relating to their hearing and whether they were hard of hearing.  All of them also underwent a thorough hearing examination.

Given the familial nature of the study, it comes as no surprise that researchers wanted to see if there was any correlation between siblings and tinnitus prevalence, or parents passing on tinnitus to their kids.

Overall, they found that tinnitus was unusually common, far more common among this particular group of subjects compared to the country (More than 20 percent of the subjects studied had “definite” or “probable” tinnitus.  About one in every six people have had symptoms of tinnitus at least once in their lives).

But the high incidence rate was not seen among tinnitus sufferers’ siblings or their kids.

For example, the incidence rate of tinnitus among parents to kids was .01 to .07.  For siblings, the incidence rate was slightly higher, but not by much (from .06 to .14).

In short, while there are lots of diseases and conditions that are inherited (e.g. obesity, diabetes, hypertension, etc.), tinnitus is not one of them.

The research was funded by the National Institute on Deafness and conducted by Norwegian researchers from Akershus University Hospital in Akershus, Norway.


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