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Spotlight on Tinnitus


Narrator, Jennifer Born

Are you one of the 50 million people in the United States who has tinnitus? Or maybe you’re one of the 16 million who suffers from chronic tinnitus. Or maybe you’re even one of the nearly 800,000 veterans who are service-connected for tinnitus, as an unintended consequence of your proud service to the United States. You might even be a musician, or a music lover, who has been around loud volumes, produced by instruments or speakers, and now have a constant ringing in your ears. Or maybe you don’t know how you got your tinnitus at all, but you do know that if someone had a remedy for it, you would surely take them up on it. Tinn-eye-tus or tinn-it-tus, no matter how you say it, it’s an invisible injury, commonly referred to as ringing in the ears. Tinnitus cannot be seen or heard by others and can ruthlessly reduce an individual’s quality of life. While there are many ways and reasons that someone would develop tinnitus, noise exposure is the leading culprit. People with tinnitus are often left feeling lonely, depressed, or misunderstood by their family and friends – all because of the sound in their ears that they cannot escape. While there are treatments that work for some people, some of the time, there is currently no cure.

Michael Malusevic (ATA Executive Director)

One of the most common things that we hear from people with tinnitus is the desire to feel validated. They want to be validated that what they’re hearing is real, that they’re not crazy, and that they’re not alone. A lot of doctors have told them to go home and learn to live with it and unfortunately they’re being misled that there aren’t treatment options out there and available to them. Tinnitus is definitely on the rise in regards to the military populations. In fact, I was surprised to learn that it’s the number on disability for veterans from all periods of service. In particular, veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are coming back with tinnitus in record numbers. With the increased use of MP3 plays, teenagers are 30% more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss. This puts them at risk for tinnitus, either now or later in life. For over 40 years, the American Tinnitus Association has been there to provide information on treatments and research for individuals. We also help connect them with a tinnitus health professional. People need to know that there are tinnitus treatments out there that can help them. Some of the most effective treatments involve sound therapy and counseling. Now these treatments can help lessen their tinnitus and improve their quality of life, but it cannot completely eliminate the tinnitus. That’s why the American Tinnitus Association is there to find a cure for tinnitus through scientific research. We would like to restore silence to the millions who suffer from this condition.

Narrator, Jennifer Born

Anyone, anywhere, can develop tinnitus at any time. Pliny the Elder coined the term tinnitus in the first century. Beethoven was the first musician to report having the condition. Many also speculate that Vincent van Gogh may have cut off his ear because he had tinnitus. More recently Pete Townshend from the rock band, The Who, had to discontinue touring with the band because of his tinnitus. William Shatner was exposed to a special effects blast while filming an episode of Star Trek and was left with chronic, unrelenting, and debilitation tinnitus as a result. Since then he has gotten treatment and recorded several tinnitus public service announcements, testified before the United States Congress, and even discussed his tinnitus on the David Letterman show. If you suspect that you or someone you love has tinnitus, visit an audiologist or other trained tinnitus health professional for an evaluation to determine what form of treatment is most appropriate for you. While there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there is hope that someday we will silence tinnitus for good.

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The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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