At-Risk Populations

Quick jump to:
How Loud is Too Loud?
How Does Tinnitus Affect our Military Personnel?
Take the Microtransponder Survey
How Do Military Personnel Develop Tinnitus?
Support from the American Tinnitus Association
Information for Musicians and Music Lovers

CAUTION: the first portion of this video contains loud tinnitus sounds from the YouTube hit PSA by Jose Zambrano Cassella, "Tinnitus Can You Hear That?". Please turn the volume on your speakers/headphones down.

Special thanks to filmmaker and ATA member
Jose Zambrano Cassella for producing this PSA

How Loud is Too Loud?

Overexposure to loud sound is the leading cause of tinnitus. We live in an extraordinarily noisy world that's getting louder by the day. There are many questions about what is too loud, how noise impairs hearing and how to avoid problems associated with noise exposure. Experts issue studies and write guidelines, but more research is needed into noise-induced tinnitus and hearing loss, and how to protect our hearing. Read more about how loud is too loud and learn about precautions you can take to mitigate your level of noise exposure.

How Tinnitus Affects Our Military Personnel

Tinnitus is a potentially devastating condition; its relentless noise is often an unwelcome reminder of war for many vets. The facts are disturbing:

  • Tinnitus is currently the number-one service-connected disability for veterans from all periods of service.
  • Since 2005, the number of veterans receiving service-connected disability for tinnitus has increased by at least 15 percent each year.
  • The total number of vets awarded disability compensation for tinnitus at the end of 2010 surpassed 744,000.
  • At this alarming rate, 2014 will see 1.5 million vets receiving military compensation for tinnitus, at a cost to American taxpayers of over $2.26 billion.

Tinnitus is a growing problem for America's military personnel. It threatens their futures with potential long-term sleep disruption, changes in cognitive ability, stress in relationships and employability challenges. These changes can be a blow to a vet's self-worth.

Attention Active Duty Military Personnel and Veterans!

The American Tinnitus Association is happy to announce a survey conducted by Microtransponder, a company developing a device-based therapy for tinnitus, with specific interest in military personnel and veterans. They are seeking data from the U.S. Armed Forces to support several grant applications to fund additional clinical trials and device development for tinnitus. Please note, that you must be a veteran or active duty  military in order to participate in this survey. The survey should take you approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.

Click here to take the survey

Office of Naval Research on the ongoing work they are doing on both tinnitus and Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL):

How Do Military Personnel Develop Tinnitus?

The most common answer is exposure to very loud noise. Military personnel are exposed to excessive noise levels during combat, training simulations and on aircraft carriers that rattle like tin cans during takeoffs and landings.

Support from the American Tinnitus Association

ATA invites veterans and their supporters to become informed about the growing incidence of tinnitus among our military personnel. Simply fill out this form to join the Action Alliance.

The Veterans Independent Budget is the only budget created by veterans, for veterans. This abstract from the FY 2012 Veterans Independent Budget includes information on how veterans are affected by tinnitus and recommendations to Congress to begin to remedy the problem.This is the second year tinnitus has been included in the Veterans Independent Budget and it was a result of ATA’s advocacy and partnership with veterans organizations.

Veterans Administration National Caregiver Support Line

The support line serves as a primary resource/referral center to assist caregivers, veterans and others seeking information on VA/community caregiver support resources,"warm" referral to dedicated CSCs located in every VA Medical Center, and emotional support for caregivers. The staff of the National Caregiver Support Line is also available to respond to inquiries about the caregiver benefits associated with Public Law 111-163, Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.

Call the support line at 1-855-260-3274, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Also, visit the VA's Caregiver website: www.caregiver.va.gov.

Information for Musicians and Music Lovers

The Bad News
The Good News
Musicians and Tinnitus: Just the Facts
Black Eyed Peas Frontman will.i.am Speaks Out About His Struggle With Tinnitus
A Music Teacher's Struggle With Tinnitus and Hyperacusis
Pete Townsend's Tinnitus Returns After Super Bowl Performance
Metallica Drummer Lars Ulrich Talks Tinnitus
"Musicians Tackle Tinnitus"
"Tinnitus and Musicians: Protect Your Hearing"
How Loud is Too Loud?
Note to Musicians
Musicians Sing About Ringing in Their Ears, Humming in Their Heads

The Bad News

All kinds of music can be too loud. Jazz, classical, rock, heavy metal, Latin, you name it. And we love them all. We weave music into the fabric of our lives, as we get ready for school or work in the morning, for recreation, while we engage in our day-to-day lives. For many, music is also their livelihood.

The Good News

ATA's mission is focused on a cure for tinnitus. Despite what you might have heard, there really are existing and new therapies are being developed to help people with tinnitus and there is more hope than ever that a cure is possible!

Read one musician's story about his struggles with tinnitus and the subsequent help he got through a novel sound therapy program that was developed with ATA-research grant funding.

Musicians and Tinnitus: Just the Facts

Here's a great article about the dangers of loud sound exposure and what musicians can do to prevent noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus. It features expert quotes as well as examples from Cold Play's Chris Martin and Liam and Noel Gallagher formerly of the band Oasis. It provides resources and what to be careful of if you are a musician exposed to loud sounds.

Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am Speaks Out About His Struggle With Tinnitus

The Sun reports that Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am suffers from tinnitus. "I can't be still. Work calms me down," Will, 35, said. "I can't be quiet, as that's when I notice the ringing in my ears. There's always a beep there every day, all day. Like now. I don't know exactly how long I've had this, but it's gradually got worse." A musician and acclaimed record producer, he is signed up to produce U2's new album, is collaborating with artists like Rhianna and Usher and preparing for a 2011 world tour with the Black Eyed Peas. "I don't know what silence sounds like any more. Music is the only thing which eases my pain."

A Music Teacher's Struggle With Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

After being diagnosed with tinnitus and hyperacusis three years ago, musician and teacher Joel Styzens’ career as a professional drummer came to an end, but that didn't stop him from figuring out a way to keep his passion for music alive. He switched to acoustic guitar and began the slow process of healing and creating a new album of relaxing and uplifting meditations. “The process of writing the new music for the album was a form of therapy. If it weren’t for my ear problems, this album would not exist.” Check out Joel's new CD in the ATA Store.

The Spring 2010 issue of Tinnitus Today features an exclusive interview with musician and teacher Joel Styzens. Read about his courageous struggle with tinnitus and hyperacusis and the lengths he has gone to improve his condition and the lives of other tinnitus and hyperacusis sufferers. Joel is an active ATA support group leader in Chicago and also publishes a online newsletter worth reading. Click here to read the May issue.

Joel Styzens and band play "A-Sharp" from the new album "Relax Your Ears"

Pete Townsend's Tinnitus Returns After Super Bowl Performance

Rock legend Pete Townsend tells Rolling Stone magazine that his tinnitus has returned after a blistering performance of The Who's hits at the Super Bowl XLIV halftime show.

Metallica Drummer Lars Ulrich Talks Tinnitus

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich appeared on CNN's "Health Minute" to discuss his tinnitus and concerns for the so-called iPod generation. "I try to point out to younger kids ... once your hearing is gone, it's gone, and there's no real remedy."

"Musicians Tackle Tinnitus" (Tinnitus Today, 6/07)

Jennifer Born, ATA Director of Advocacy & Research, informs us that tinnitus is a serious matter in the music world. Performers, audio engineers and listeners of all types of music are at risk for noise-induced tinnitus and other hearing damage. Jenn interviews esteemed drummer Liberty DeVitto, jazz guitar legend Al Di Meola and drummer Joe Luoma.

"Tinnitus and Musicians: Protect Your Hearing" (Tinnitus Today, 3/07)

Neil Cherian, M.D., knows all about tinnitus. He is a practicing otoneurologist at the Cleveland Clinic and director of its newly launched Center for Performance Medicine. Dr. Cherian is a member of ATA’s Board of Directors. In his article, "Tinnitus and Musicians: Protect Your Hearing," he notes: “Professional musicians are in a difficult position since they rely on their ears for their livelihood, and they expose their ears to the rigors of their work. For many musicians, tinnitus can be considered a repetitive strain injury."

Note to Musicians

You most probably need special, custom-made hearing protection since you play, sit or stand near loud instruments and speakers. Here are a few sites (of many) with good information about music, noise risk and protection:

  • Sensaphonics Hearing Conservation was founded by audiologist Michael Santucci in 1985. It is a research and development company committed to controlling the damaging effects of loud sound, particularly regarding musicians and hearing loss.
  • Etymotic specializes in information and products for those involved with music, with special hearing protection for musicians.
  • Quiet drumsticks? If you are a drummer, you know what NOISE is. Take a look at a product used widely by drummers in the profession.

Musicians Sing About Ringing in their Ears
and Humming in their Heads- Could it be Tinnitus?

"I wonder how you're feeling.
There's ringing in my ears.
And no one to relate to, 'cept the sea"
Peter Frampton, "Show me the Way"

"Your head is humming and it won't go in case you don't know
The piper's calling you to join him"
Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant), "Stairway to Heaven"

"My ears are ringin'
Ringin' like empty shells
My ears are ringin'
Ringin' like empty shells"
Bob Dylan, "Call Letter Blues"

"There's an insect in your ear
If you scratch it won't disappear."
U2 (Bono), "Staring at the Sun"

"Now I'm a seasick sailor On a ship of noise
I got my maps all backwards And my instincts poisoned
In a truth blown gutter Full of wasted years
Like blown-out speakers Ringin' in my ears"
Beck, "Nausea"

Visit ATA's music page for tips and news for music fans and musicians, tinnitus mentioned in songs, a list of musicians who experience tinnitus and resources and links to help you.

Do you have questions, would like to become a member or request additional information?

Please email us and we will be happy to assist you! Fill out this convenient online form and ATA will mail you an information packet of our materials.