The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) joins the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) in the national observance of Tinnitus Awareness Week, May 19-25. The theme for this year’s observance is Salute to Silence: Raising Awareness for Veterans and the Millions Affected by Tinnitus. ATA uses this week to raise awareness about tinnitus and the need for increased tinnitus research. The week was established in 2003 and coincides with Better Hearing and Speech Month, which was created by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 1927.
Tinnitus is a sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ears or head. It is often associated with many forms of hearing impairment, noise exposure, and other conditions. It’s not a disease, but in some cases it may become so severe that a person might find it difficult to hear, concentrate, or even sleep. Roughly 25 million Americans have experienced tinnitus. Read the NIDCD tinnitus fact sheet to learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, available therapies, and ongoing research.
The NIDCD conducts and supports research in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. At the NIDCD Section on Brain Imaging and Modeling in the Voice, Speech, and Language Branch, Barry Horwitz, Ph.D., and his staff work on neural models that are applied to high-level auditory and language function, including trying to understand the neural basis of tinnitus.
In 2009, the NIDCD sponsored a workshop that brought together tinnitus researchers to talk about the condition and develop fresh ideas for potential cures. Although tinnitus may begin in the ear, chronic tinnitus continues in the brain. The NIDCD currently funds research including non-invasive therapies to expand on the standard of care for those with mild tinnitus, and more invasive interventions to stimulate the brain of those with disabling tinnitus.
The NIDCD supports several clinical studies on tinnitus, including a multicenter study of U.S. military personnel and their dependents who suffer from severe tinnitus. For a full list of publicly and privately supported clinical studies on tinnitus worldwide, visit ClinicalTrials.gov and search for “tinnitus.” To learn more about clinical trials and read about study volunteers, visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You.