Battlefields, rock concerts, loud cars, construction zones, and industrial plants all have something in common: the potential to cause or worsen tinnitus. Tinnitus usually builds gradually in our noisy world until it reaches the point where a human realizes she or he is hearing sounds that aren’t actually present. People often describe hearing ringing bells, buzzing, swooshing, clicking, or some other persistent noise that won’t go away. Over time tinnitus can get worse, to the point of debilitating disablement in the worst cases. When I saw an audiologist in the early 90s after I first noticed a constant high-pitched buzz, the best he could suggest was to do my best to avoid loud noises. According to the American Tinnitus Association, approximately 15% of Americans, 50 million people of all ages, suffer from tinnitus, which is usually but not always accompanied by hearing loss. About 2 million Americans have disabling tinnitus. According to the U.S. Veterans Health Administration, tinnitus is the most common combat-related disability.
While there is no reported treatment or cure for tinnitus, Aurex International, a division of ADM Tronics Unlimited, recently introduced Tinnitus Shield, a new hearing protection product. According to Aurex, the Tinnitus Shield design protects users against damaging sound by acting as a second eardrum. A unique membrane filter is designed to absorb sound waves evenly for a natural form of sound suppression. The purpose is to prevent the onset of Tinnitus or to reduce the condition’s progression. The device ships in pairs in a convenient, fitted carrying case with four different end tip sizes to seal the ear’s passageway.
While Aurex does not cite clinical studies in support of the Tinnitus Shield technology, the company states it is in active discussions with The Tinnitus Clinic in the U.K. and the American Tinnitus Association. Aurex has not yet released the Tinnitus Shield, but interested parties can join a notification list. It may be questionable whether people will wear such a protective device unless required by an employer, but once one develops tinnitus anything that can halt or slow its progression is a major win.