Student Zone

Welcome to ATA's Student Zone, a special section for young adults who are interested in learning more about tinnitus, the dangers of loud sound and ways to protect their hearing for a lifetime!

Quick jump to:

Featured Student

You may remember that last year ATA asked for your participation in an MP3 player use survey. Gita Bhattacharya was the investigator behind that survey. In this interview, she talks about how she became interested in tinnitus and shares the results of her survey. Gita won national recognition for her paper, "Wake Up When Your Ears Ring," at the 2011 Young Epidemeology Scholars competition in Washington, D.C. in April 2011. Read the full interview with Gita about her experience with her survey, the competition, and maybe most importantly, her experience with tinnitus.

Featured School

Students from the 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes at Niu Valley Middle School in Honolulu, Hawaii contacted ATA this past December to see if we could help them with their project for the First® LEGO® League competition. The goal of the program was to have students create an innovative solution to a real medical problem, and the students chose tinnitus as their topic.

The students put on a presentation that included information from ATA on current treatments and research for tinnitus, plus an informative and comedic skit and written materials. Their hard work paid off and the group won 2nd place in the competition!

ATA sends our congratulations to the students and thanks them for helping do their part in spreading awareness of the condition to their community. Click to view a brochure they created as part of their project.

Want to give a presentation about tinnitus at your school?

Information About Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is when someone hears sound in the ears or head where no external source is present.

Most people call tinnitus "ringing in the ears" or "head noise." For tens of millions (1 in 5 U.S. citizens), hearing these sounds can be very uncomfortable and even painful and scary since it never goes away.

Watch the video below as Dr. William Hal Martin, from Oregon Health Sciences University, and ATA co-founder Dr. Vernon talk about tinnitus. Also visit ATA's "Sounds of Tinnitus" page to hear what people with tinnitus struggle with every day:

What causes tinnitus?

The exact mechanisms of tinnitus are unknown but scientists are working hard to understand the condition and are making a lot of progress. There are several sources, all of which are known to trigger or make someone's tinnitus worse:

  • Exposure to loud sounds or noise 
  • Head and neck trauma
  • Certain disorders like Lyme Disease and fibromyalgia can have tinnitus as a symptom
  • Certain types of tumors like an acoustic neuroma
  • Wax build-up in the ears
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Ototoxicity - Some medications are ototoxic, that is, the medications are harmful or damaging to the ear

Music and Tinnitus

Music is magical but it can be dangerous when played at loud volumes. For many people, loud music causes tinnitus.

Most at risk are music lovers with the volume cranked up on their MP3 players, home or car stereo systems or CD players.

Visit ATA's music page for tips and news for music fans and musicians, tinnitus mentioned in songs, a list of musicians who experience tinnitus and resources and links to help you stay safe.

How Loud is Too Loud?

Why does loud sound harm our ears and cause tinnitus?

Exposure to loud sound or noise can damage and even destroy hair cells, called cilia, in the inner ear. Hair cells are very important as they help process sound. Once damaged, these hair cells cannot be renewed or replaced. View the sound level chart so you can learn how loud is too loud.

Wear Earplugs, or Cover Your Ears When Around Loud Noise, Music or Sound

Read about the risks of loud noise and how you can avoid damage to your ears.

Learn more about how Life Can Be Loud - Remember Your Hearing Protection and how to properly insert and wear earplugs.

Always remember this advice: "If you can, turn it down. If you can't, walk away. If you stay, cover your ears."

Interactive Sound Ruler

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Noisy Planet campaign now offers an interactive sound ruler to learn about how loud sound can be harmful to people's hearing. Animated graphics give basic tips on preventing noise-induced hearing loss. The NIDCD sound ruler gives kids and adults firm guidelines about when they should wear hearing protection, turn down the volume, or simply walk away from loud noise.

Another fun way to hear the different sound levels of everyday objects, visit

Give a Presentation at Your School

It can be fun teaching others about tinnitus. Need some ideas? Check out some of ATA's materials listed below!

Share Copies of ATA's Hear for a Lifetime Activity Book

ATA believes YOU have the power to Hear for a Lifetime! Share this fun activity book with your friends and classmates and test your knowledge on tinnitus, hearing protection and hearing loss.

Build Your Own "DeciBelle"

DeciBelle is ATA's futuristic mascot. She has a bionic ear that senses how loud someone is playing their iPod or MP3 player. She travels with ATA and makes appearances at special events. DeciBelle was built from the same blueprint as her sister Joelene. Want to build your own? Check out the "Joelene Cookbook"!

Mini Posters

"Color Me Quietly"

Hearing mechanics diagram

Sound levels poster

"You Have the Power to Hear for a Lifetime!"

"So, You Want to Lose Your Ears?" hearing loss prevention poster courtesy of the Earplug Superstore


ATA crossword puzzle / answers

Stories from ATA's magazine Tinnitus Today:

ATA has many articles available that can be used as materials for a presentation on tinnitus. Contact ATA at and we will email you the additional information right away.

Videos About Tinnitus

"Tinnitus, Can You Hear That?", is a powerful public service announcement created by filmmaker, ATA member and advocate Jose Zambrano Cassella:

For other videos about tinnitus, visit ATA's Video page to view more!

ATA also has a new Podcasts page where we share MP3s that may be played, downloaded and shared with friends, family and teachers.

For Educators: Hearing Conservation & Tinnitus Prevention Program

Are you an educator? Request ATA's Hear for a Lifetime hearing conservation and tinnitus prevention program materials! ATA encourages the use of this program in schools everywhere. While the materials are geared primarily for the more receptive 1st – 3rd grade audiences, some of it is appropriate and adaptable for older students. Contact to receive this kit which includes a lesson plan, script outline, activity book, word search and diagrams to color.

Thank you for your interest in reaching children with a vital message that they can turn it down, walk away from loud noise and cover their ears.