Vail health: What you should know about tinnitus |

Vail health: What you should know about tinnitus

Daily staff report
VAIL CO, Colorado

May is better speech and hearing month. In honor of that, for the very first time, the Better Hearing Institute is teaming up with the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) to promote Tinnitus Awareness Week, a single week during Better Hearing Month in May, that is set aside to focus specifically on increasing public awareness about tinnitus and most importantly the need for increased funding for tinnitus research. So what is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound where no external source exists. Those who are affected describe tinnitus as a “ringing, hissing, buzzing or whooshing,” perceived in one or both ears.

Most commonly caused by noise exposure, tinnitus impacts up to 50 million Americans and of those, 16 million suffer from chronic intrusive tinnitus. Tinnitus disproportionately impacts veterans and at the end of 2011 over 840,000 veterans were service-connected for it, making it the leading disability for that population. This includes over 215,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are developing tinnitus in record numbers. Because of these surges, raising awareness of this lesser-known condition is imperative.

Tinnitus is most often the result of noise exposure; either from a single impulse (extreme) noise, or cumulative exposure to noise. Head and neck injury are the second leading known cause of tinnitus. A recent Department of Defense study on Iraq service veterans indicated that 70 percent of those exposed to an explosive blast reported tinnitus within the first 72 hours after the incident; 43 percent of those seen one month after the incident continued to report tinnitus.

A 2007 study of 900 musicians found that at least 60 person report at least occasional tinnitus. Thirty million workers are at risk for tinnitus from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) from hazardous noise on the job.

The Centers for Disease Control report that nearly 13 percent of children, ages 6-19 (5 million in the U.S.) already have some form of NIHL. This means they may also have tinnitus or they are at greater risk for developing tinnitus.

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See an audiologist experienced in tinnitus treatment. Dr. Daria Stakiw of Rocky Mountain Audiology is located at 56 Edwards Village Blvd. Suite 222 in Edwards. She can be reached at 970-926-6660.