TAMPA, Fla. - Sal Gentile loves a peaceful bike ride. But in July of 2011 he says his silence was stolen from him. "My ears started ringing. They started hissing, machine-types of loud noises. That's basically the only way I can describe it."
He says the ringing never stopped. "I couldn't hear the chirping of birds in the morning. Things I most enjoyed were taken away from me."
Diagnosed with tinnitus, Sal says he visited more a dozen ear nose and throat doctors, audiologists and chiropractors. He says the medical experts told him the condition had no cure. "I was devastated. I was depressed. I felt like my life had been robbed from me."
Finally, after getting involved with the American Tinnitus Association he learned about audio therapy. He says sound generators and other devices create white noise and battle the ringing. "Habituation is a process where everyday you utilize tools to focus such as white noise. You focus on one type of noise and eventually, the brain gets accustomed to that noise and takes the tinnitus and puts it in the back of the brain."
Both Gentile and the ATA say many of our military members are coming back from serving overseas with the tinnitus issues. "I spoke to a veteran recently who just returned from Iraq who cannot function completely. He's completely debilitated. He's in bed, can't seem to get out of bed, can't work, can't support his family."
To raise awareness and money, he's agreed to ride 100 miles in an event sponsored by the ATA. "All the money I'm trying to collect for the American Tinnitus Association would go towards finding a cure for both our military population and our civilian population."
For more information on tinnitus, visit http://www.ata.org .
For more information on the bike ride, check http://bike.ata.org/team-pages/top-of-the-bay .