The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) announced that National Tinnitus Awareness Week (TAW) will be celebrated May 19 - 25, 2013. This year, ATA is saluting members of the United States military and all our veterans who have selflessly served, because they suffer from tinnitus disproportionately from the rest of the civilian population.
For the past five years, tinnitus has been the number one service-connected disability for veterans from all periods of service and is particularly prevalent in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over 840,000 veterans currently receive disability compensation for tinnitus alone.
"While ATA is increasingly encouraged by the growing interest in and pace of tinnitus research, there are still hundreds of millions of people worldwide who suffer with this condition on a daily basis," said Mark K. Johnson , J.D., Chair of ATA's Board of Directors. "ATA's mission is to silence tinnitus by funding research, and we can only accomplish this with increased awareness of tinnitus and how it can interfere with and reduce a person's quality of life."
According to the Department of Defense's (DoD) Hearing Center of Excellence, economic loss to an individual who has tinnitus can be up to $30,000 annually and up to $26,000,000 to society as a whole. In addition, when quantified, the cost to the VA for tinnitus disability compensation is $1.28 billion annually, a figure that is expected to grow to $2.75 billion annually by 2016 at the current rate of increase.
Because tinnitus is so prevalent in the military, on May 22, 2013, the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, in concert with the Military and Veterans Caucus and the Invisible Wounds Caucus, will hold a lunch briefing on tinnitus as it pertains to the military and veterans. Representatives from the VA and the DoD's Hearing Center of Excellence have been invited to give remarks and ATA Board and staff will also be present.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound where no external source is present and is commonly referred to as "ringing in the ears." Tinnitus is most commonly caused by exposure to loud noise and the second leading cause is head and/or neck injury. According to data analyzed from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus and of those, 16 million suffer from chronic intrusive tinnitus and have sought medical attention for it.