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The Star Trek Explosion That Caused William Shatner’s Tinnitus

The Star Trek Explosion That Caused William Shatner’s Tinnitus

William Shatner — who is best known for playing Captain James Kirk on the television series Star Trek —has frequently and candidly shared his experiences dealing with a severe case of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition (technically classified as a symptom, not a disease) that manifests as a bothersome ringing in the ears. It affects millions of people each year, and typically emerges in the wake of loud noise exposure, head/upper neck trauma, or age-related hearing loss. That said, while most kinds of tinnitus are related to the inner ear malfunctioning, it is still possible for someone to have hearing in the normal range and still suffer from tinnitus.

Dr. Ben shares the back story of William Shatner’s tinnitus and how he ended up being able to manage it

According to Shatner, his tinnitus began after standing too close to a special effects explosion while filming the Star Trek episode “Arena”. He reported feelings of agony and torment until he sought treatment. Shatner has described his tinnitus as sounding like television static. While he previously struggled with it in decades past, he has now reached a point where he is no longer bothered by it, similar to other patients who have successfully “habituated”. Shatner has also shared his experience with visiting an audiologist and becoming emotional when they were able to replicate the sound of his tinnitus, and tailor a personalized therapy plan for him. 

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is the most reliable tinnitus treatment available. It typically involves managing stressors, cultivating wellness, and following various sound therapy and cognitive behavioral protocols. The course of TRT is variable, and can take from 6 to 18 months. It is also important to consider that no matter how far you might be in your tinnitus habituation journey, there is still time to start the recovery and management process.

That said, tinnitus is a subjective symptom. So while Shatner may describe feelings of agony and the experience of having “been robbed” of a certain quality of life, this may not necessarily be the case for other tinnitus patients. It’s virtually impossible to compare how different patients experience tinnitus. The Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) is as close to an objective test of tinnitus, since it outputs a number that quantifies how bothersome your tinnitus might be. Over the course of treatment, the goal is to reduce that number to the point where your tinnitus is perceived at a mild and normal level. 

Ultimately, the main takeaway from Shatner’s experience is that while tinnitus may result in varying levels of stress for patients, there is still a path forward. If you are currently suffering from tinnitus, we recommend reaching out to a tinnitus-specialized audiologist and embarking on a course of tinnitus retraining therapy. With dedication and proper guidance, it is highly possible that you can get better and reach a point where your tinnitus is no longer bothersome.

What To Do Next For Tinnitus

At Treble Health, we know the importance of having a comprehensive approach to tinnitus management. That includes neuroplasticity, sound therapy, and proper medical tests. We put together a consumer guide to help you master tinnitus management so you can improve tinnitus once and for all. Click here to get the free Tinnitus Guide: 2022 Edition

Want to speak with an expert audiologist about your options for tinnitus treatment instead? At the tap of a finger, you can schedule a free Treble Health Tinnitus Consultation today! You’ll be connected with a real audiologist, not a salesperson, and there is no obligation or commitment.

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