Higher rates of poor cognitive performance are known to prevail among persons with tinnitus in all age groups. However, no study has explored the association between tinnitus and early-onset dementia. We hypothesize that tinnitus may precede or occur concurrently with subclinical or early onset dementia in adults younger than 65 years of age. This case–control study used data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, identifying 1308 patients with early-onset dementia (dementia diagnosed before 65 years of age) and 1308 matched controls. We used multivariable logistic regressions to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for prior tinnitus among patients with dementia versus controls. Among total 2616 sample participants, the prevalence of prior tinnitus was 18%, 21.5% among cases and 14.5% among controls (p < 0.001). Multivariable logistic regression showed and adjusted OR for prior tinnitus of 1.6 for cases versus controls (95% CI: 1.3 ~ 2.0). After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and medical co-morbidities, patients with early-onset dementia had a 67% higher likelihood of having prior tinnitus (OR = 1.628; 95% CI = 1.321–2.006). Our findings showed that pre-existing tinnitus was associated with a 68% increased risk of developing early-onset dementia among young and middle-aged adults. The results call for greater awareness of tinnitus as a potential harbinger of future dementia in this population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas