The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) has spent 2013 saluting members of the United States military and veterans, 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) more 840,000 veterans currently receive disability compensation for tinnitus alone.
- Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound where no external source is present – those who are affected often describe tinnitus as ringing, hissing, roaring, buzzing or whooshing, perceived in one or both ears;
- Nearly 50 million Americans experience tinnitus;
- 10-12 million have tinnitus chronically and seek medical attention for their condition;
- 1-2 million Americans are debilitated by their tinnitus – cognitive abilities are compromised and quality of life is ruthlessly reduced from their tinnitus;
In 2007 a study of 900 musicians found that at least 60% report occasional tinnitus; Tinnitus is most commonly caused by noise exposure – According to the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) maximum allowable noise exposure is 85 dBA for eight hours and even at that level seven to eight people will still sustain hearing damage;
30 million workers are at risk for tinnitus and noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) from hazardous noise on the job;
Under-employment and unemployment due to NIHL costs $2.5 billion a year with an additional $2 billion per year in welfare and disability programs;
Industry experts recommend that for every 3 decibel increase above 85dBA a person should cut their time exposure in half. For example, if 85 dBA is “safe” for eight hours, then 88dBA is “safe” for only four hours;
Even though there are recommended maximum allowable exposure times, cumulative noise exposure even at “safe” levels can cause tinnitus over years;
Here are some examples of every day noise sources and their respective decibel levels:
Noise Source Decibel level (dBA) Maximum allowable time exposure
- City Traffic, Vacuum Cleaner – 85dBA, 8 hours max exposure duration
- Power Lawn Mower – 90dBA, 4 hours
- MP3 Player -- 105 dBA, 7 minutes
- Chainsaw -- 110 dBA, 4 minutes
- Rock Concert – 115 dBA, 1 minute or less
- Piccolo – 120 dBA, 30 seconds or less
- Jackhammer 130 dBA, 15 seconds or less
The American Tinnitus Association exists to cure tinnitus through the development of resources that advance tinnitus research.