We’ve all experienced ringing in our ears from time to time—and if we’re lucky, the sensation goes away almost as soon as we notice it’s there. But Donna Brown’s ears have been ringing for ten years. “I don't know what caused my tinnitus,” says the fervent campaigner for tinnitus research. “It occurred about two months after a surgery and has been with me ever since.” Brown is frank when describing the noise in her head: “For me, it’s a whistling tea kettle sound blaring in both ears and a loud hum in my right ear. Do I need to say more?”
When doctors told Brown that nothing could be done about her condition, she met the dismal news with an emphatic “I don’t think so.” An avid hiker, she strapped on her boots and crampons, grabbed her ice axe, threw on her backpack and set out to do her best to prove them wrong. She formed Expedition Hopeful, tackling Washington’s Mount Rainier and raising more than $85,000 for tinnitus research. This year she teamed up with the American Tinnitus Association and faced Rainier again on July 13 for Expedition Hopeful Cure 2, which set ambitious targets: $150,000 in donations, and an eight-mile ascent to the summit.
The climb was grueling, but Brown is undeterred; her sights are set on an even bigger goal: “I want to see a cure before I’m old!” she says. “There are 50 million people in the USA alone with this problem. Ten to 12 million are so severely disabled they can hardly put one foot in front of the other. That’s how I plan to make it to the summit of Rainier: one step at a time, carrying and sharing their hopes for an eventual cure all the way up to the top!”
“If I’m lucky enough to see a cure for tinnitus in my lifetime, it will be absolute heaven,” Brown concludes. “If not in my lifetime, then to have contributed in some way to the development of a cure will be enough.”
To sponsor Expedition Hopeful II, visit www.healthfuljourney.com.
Are You at High Risk for Tinnitus?
“Based on the number of audio professionals and musicians who stop by our Sound Partners exhibit booth at the audio and tradeshows, tinnitus is an all too common health concern in the audio industry,” says Marilee Potthoff, director of marketing at the House Ear Institute. “When providing our hearing health services at the audio tradeshows, we are approached an average of a dozen times a day by people desperately seeking help for chronic tinnitus problems. While it is important to note that there are several different causes of tinnitus; it quite often accompanies noise-induced hearing loss—the other pervasive hearing health issue in the audio industry.”
To learn more about tinnitus, causes and treatment options, visit the American Tinnitus Association at www.ata.org or the House Ear Institute’s online resource center at www.hoseearclinic.com/tinnitues.htm.
Read a recent Mix feature about hearing awareness and protection for audio engineers at mixonline.com/basics/audio_bring_down_noise.