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Hospital Happenings

News | Feb. 10, 2023

BJACH employees lend an ear for tinnitus awareness

By Jean Graves, Medical Readiness Command, West

Lt. Col. Leanne Battler, chief of public health and doctor of audiology, hosted a “Lunch and Learn” lecture Feb. 7 at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Battler, a passionate advocate for hearing conservation, treated attendees with ear shaped cookies to coincide with her lecture.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, tinnitus is the number-one disability among veterans, has increased significantly in recent years for active-duty personnel, and affects nearly 15% of American adults.

People suffering from tinnitus report hear ringing, buzzing, high-pitched whistling or other sounds in one or both ears when no external sound is present.

Battler said tinnitus is caused by exposure to loud noises, head injuries, medications and a variety of other causes.

“There is no cure for tinnitus, but it can be managed,” she said. “It is a symptom of other issues such as ear infections, hearing loss or head injuries. If you are experiencing tinnitus that is lasting more than five minutes at a time, multiple times per week, you should have additional evaluations done to rule out other serious conditions.”

Battler said tinnitus is often co-diagnosed with hearing loss and traumatic brain injuries, and sometimes associated with mental health diagnoses including anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.

“Other factors associated with tinnitus include gender, age, race and marital status,” she said.

Battler said there is no cure or magic pill for tinnitus.

“There are so many management strategies individuals suffering from tinnitus can employ,” she said. “Diet and exercise along with sound emitting devices may reduce tinnitus.”

Battler said the best way to prevent tinnitus is to practice safe listening, using properly fitted hearing protection around loud noises, and have annual hearing tests to monitor for small changes over time.
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