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The Mike Malusevic Interview (Page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Mike Malusevic
Executive Director - American Tinnitus Association (ATA)

Betty WhiteGary Barg: Letís start at the beginning and tell us what weíre talking about when we say tinnitus.

Mike Malusevic: The easiest way to put it is tinnitus is ringing in your ears. Itís a sound that you hear that is not heard externally by others. So this is a function of the auditory pathways of the brain. This is where you know tinnitus resides. People are hearing a sound. It can be a screeching, buzzing or there can be many different forms of it. They are hearing something that someone on the outside is not hearing.

Gary Barg: What are the general causes and what can we do when we know our loved one is dealing with tinnitus?

Mike Malusevic: Some of the ways people get it is through exposure to loud noises. People do not protect their hearing enough. There are little hair cells inside of the ear that are getting a signal from the brain and those are damaged with people who attend a lot of loud concerts, construction workers, and especially veterans. But people can also get it from a head or neck injury and also traumatic brain injury. There are also drugs that are ototoxic to the ears and have been shown to cause tinnitus.

Gary Barg: Tell me about the work of the ATA.

Mike Malusevic: The primary goal of the ATA is to find a cure for tinnitus through scientific research and to support the patient until we can get to such a point where there is a cure. We have plenty of resources, information and connections that can help caregivers get treatments or other help for the patient.

Gary Barg: Is there an aging implication to this?

Mike Malusevic: Yes. It tends to happen as you get older. Some people are genetically inclined to eventually arrive at that point. And possibly they bring it on sooner by abusing their ears with loud sounds.

Weíve heard from children who have gotten it because the noise in our cities has increased over the last few decades. So, whereas we were seeing this traditionally as an older personís problem, we are now seeing it move to a younger age range.

Gary Barg: What is the first step we should take if we or our loved ones hear a consistent ringing in the ears?

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