Veterans and Hearing Loss

Veterans and Hearing Loss

Olga Lis, MS, CCC-A
Latest posts by Olga Lis, MS, CCC-A (see all)

If the environment is quiet enough, there is almost no risk of hearing loss. Noises that record about 85 decibels, including everyday situations like sitting in a busy restaurant, are perfectly alright.

However, when noises begin to surpass these levels it becomes more dangerous, and they often do so. Moving the lawn or a going to a loud rock concert are typical day-to-day listening situations that regularly exceed 90 decibels in volume.

But the noisiest places of all could be conflict zones. We have men and women who subject themselves to this noise almost daily, and it is causing serious damage to their ears.

Battling noise as well as the enemy

The VA reports that there were about 1.7 million applications for tinnitus for disability compensation in 2017 and 1.16 million veterans who received for hearing loss compensation. But the number of people actually with hearing loss is probably higher. This is because those who don’t use VA programs won’t have reported their hearing condition.

Another study conducted by the research of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that veterans were 30% more likely to have a serious hearing impairment than non-veterans. Hearing issues are so common among veterans that the VA is one of the biggest buyers of hearing aids. The VA buys one in five hearing aids sold in the U.S.

The loss of hearing can result in tinnitus. The continuous ringing in the ears interferes with concentration. Headaches, mood changes, anxiety, insomnia, changes in vision and depression are also known to result from tinnitus. Many veterans who register with normal hearing still find it hard to understand speech. This is due to a condition called auditory processing disorder and is caused by explosions.

The importance of protecting your ears

The source of the exposure to loud noise comes from working at airplane hangars as well as exposure to blasts. Damaging noise often arrives suddenly and military personnel are understandably more concerned with things other than protecting their ears. The most common cause of hearing loss in the military is sudden or prolonged exposure to noise–most of it from weapons, planes, tanks, heavy machinery, and roadside bombs.

Although service members know instinctively to put on their body armor, hearing protection is also essential. Some servicemen and women are wary of using hearing protection because they say it hinders critical interaction and knowledge of the immediate environment. But with the most sophisticated hearing protection, soldiers will not face this issue.

These specialized ear plugs allow users to experience clear audio communications with specialized electronics integrated into custom-molded earpieces whilst protecting their ears from the noise common in aerospace environments. They reduce noise on average by 30 dB thereby allowing clear communication in high noise environments.

Be wary of defective hearing protection

Hearing protection for all active military members is now compulsory. Nonetheless, many people have paid the price of a recent wave of inadequate hearing protection.

In a notable case a hearing protection company was recently found guilty of providing inadequate protection for the US military. 3M sold earplugs to the Defense Department supposedly knowing that the earplugs were too short to fit properly into the user’s ear, and that they could lose their all-important seal around the ear without the wearer knowing.

From 2003 to 2015, thousands of members of the armed forces assigned to Afghanistan and Iraq used these faulty earplugs and experienced daily exposure to dangerous noise levels. This resolution sends a clear signal that all safety equipment must be properly assembled and that all suppliers must make every effort to ensure that our troops are able to safeguard themselves from occupational hazards.

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss

If you are a veteran who thinks that you have a hearing problem, it is best to get treated as quickly as possible. In combination with other veterans ‘ problems they noticed coming back from combat zones, getting help with hearing loss is even more important. The VA offers financial help for hearing loss services and technology. For more information, you can contact the VA by phoning 1-877-222-VETS.

Audiology Central

Whether you are a veteran or not, we offer hearing assessments and fittings of the latest hearing technology. Contact us today to see how we can help improve your hearing experience.