On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your tinnitus? If you rated it higher than a five, then it’s most likely that the constant ringing in the ears is interfering with your happiness, your life, and your well being.
Occurrences of tinnitus are on the rise and noise induced tinnitus seems to be the one making the most headlines, due to the expressed concern over iPods and other music related sound systems. There still seems to be quite a lack of awareness out there about the dangers of noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
You don’t have to look far to find evidence of that. Just walk into your nearest movie theatre and feel the noise decibels penetrate your entire body. The audio levels are very often so unnecessarily loud that it borders on noise pollution! I actually wear ear plugs when I go see movies. Most people don’t have a problem with the volume though. Well, at least not until they wake up one day with chronic tinnitus.
Though I am a huge advocate of live music, mainly because that’s what I do for a living, I’m still dismayed to see concert goers hanging out right beside the speakers! There are no warning signs that indicate “danger, close a proximity to these devices may cause hearing loss or tinnitus.” Maybe there should be a law that obliges festivals, clubs, and venue owners to promote awareness against temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus caused by exposure to loud noise.
There is no cure for tinnitus. And, most insurance companies still do not recognize tinnitus as a debilitating condition and therefore will not cover medical expenses or loss of income caused by chronic suffering. However, tinnitus is often severe enough for many sufferers to seek medical attention. And, as most tinnitus patients will tell you, it is a long road ahead for anyone looking for relief from tinnitus symptoms. Finding relief can be an expensive journey. Many are spending anywhere from $100/month on anti-depressants to $2,500.00 for tinnitus retraining therapy. In many cases, patients will spend thousands more on anyone or anything that will give them promise of relief.
There has been continuous research both in the medical and scientific fields for a cure. However, I wonder how difficult it must be to compete for funding in the face of other epidemics like bird flu, aids, and rising cancer rates. How many people must suffer from tinnitus before the pharmaceutical companies spend large budgets on research? Any search on Google will reveal that millions are already suffering from tinnitus and this is a real serious global medical problem.
But, the biggest question still remains; why are we not doing more to create awareness about noise induced tinnitus? We are a socially responsible society, are we not? We properly label cigarettes, trans fat products, age-appropriate toys, movies, games and dangerous goods. It seems to me that the next step may be to lobby manufacturers to put warning labels on their audio systems and make the event producers give clear warnings at their loud events. These notices could read something like, “loud noise exposure can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.”
Exactly how long will the insurance companies, manufacturers, event producers and government officials try to ignore this growing world wide epidemic? Exactly how long will it be before this collective pool of millions of people get together to affect corporate change and ask for warning labels on loud noise producing products? How long will it be before the insurance companies recognize tinnitus as a medical issue? How long will it be before the message goes out loud and clear?
Paul Tobey is a concert pianist and motivational speaker who discovered a path to healing Tinnitus without medical intervention.