Tinnitus and Other Conditions

Tinnitus and Other Conditions



Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of sound from the environment.

It might be described as a ‘ringing in the ears’ – in fact tinnitus comes from the Latin word for ‘ringing’. People can also experience different sounds – e.g. a buzzing, humming, grinding etc.

The impact of tinnitus varies from person to person.
Estimates vary based on questions asked. Therefore ranges are given here.

10.1% to 14.5% of people might experience tinnitus1.

Of these 20% are likely to seek support for bothersome tinnitus2 - i.e. 2% to 2.9% of people will have tinnitus that they seek help for.

0.5% of the population might have tinnitus that severely affects their ability to lead a normal life3.

Prevalence varies with age – e.g. some studies suggest that it increases up to age 70 and then stabilises or decreases2, although there is some uncertainty about this finding.

People with hearing loss are more likely to experience tinnitus2.

NHS Choices


BMJ Best Practice


Disorders of central auditory processing, also known as auditory processing disorder (APD), can result in hearing difficulties. In these cases the audiogram is normal but individuals might complain about not being able to hear clearly.
Prevalence data for auditory processing disorders is both variable and scarce+ “Prevalence rates of auditory processing disorder in both children and adults have been difficult to confirm, and reports in the literature are inconsistent. Intuitively, prevalence rates should differ across age of the population; overall, the research suggests that audiometry process disorder is relatively infrequent in children and young adults, but quiet common in adults with brain injuries, (for example, with traumatic brain injury in veterans), and very common in seniors”. Ref: Canadian Interorganizational Steering Group for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology 2012. Canadian Guidelines on auditory processing disorder in children and adults: assessment and intervention.

It is estimated that 0.5% to 1% of the population have CAPD, with a higher prevalence in children – e.g. some estimates suggest a prevalence of between 2% and 7% in children4.

One UK research project reported that auditory processing disorders might make up 5.1% of the caseload in children’s audiology, but just 0.9% of the caseload in adult clinics5.
NHS Choices

Vertigo is the perception of spinning or rotation of the person or their surroundings in the absence of any actual physical movement.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
GP working full time is likely to see 10 to 20 people with vertigo in one year6.

One systematic review notes that lifetime prevalence of “bad enough” vertigo is between 3% and 10%7


BPPV is a disorder of the inner ear. People with BPPV can experience vertigo with changes in the position of the head.
Lifetime prevalence is estimated to be 3.2% in females and 1.6 in men8.

1 year incidence estimated rage is between 0.06% and 0.6%7.

Can occur at any age but peak incidence is between 50 and 70 years of age8.

Other causes of imbalance and dizziness - other central nervous system or general medical causes of imbalance and dizziness.
One systematic review notes that lifetime prevalence of “bad enough” dizziness between 17% and 30%7. However, it is important – when planning services – not to rely on lifetime prevalence alone.