When considering post-combat injuries in veterans, PTSD, missing limbs, and brain damage may come to mind. Hearing loss, though, may not often come to mind. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
- Hearing loss is the most prevalent injury among post-combat veterans. – Hearing loss, as the most ubiquitous veteran injury, is followed in numbers by PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Severe hearing loss is commonly caused by bomb detonations and general military and combat noise. Improvised explosive devices, loud weapons, and other sounds such as the engines of ships, planes, and tanks can cause tinnitus and temporary to permanent loss of hearing. Veterans of the post-9/11 conflicts are the most affected population in terms of hearing loss. In fact, 414,000 post 9/11 soldiers have come home with some form of tinnitus or hearing loss.
- More veterans have hearing loss than non-veterans. – According to the Center for Disease Control, post-combat soldiers are 30 percent more likely to have severe hearing impairment than nonveterans. Even more concerning is that among those who served from September 2001 to March 2010, veterans were four times more like to suffer hearing loss than nonveterans.
- It may be that recent combat soldiers are likelier to lose their hearing than veterans of past conflicts. – Larger and louder weapons technology very likely contributes to higher numbers of veterans with hearing loss. Intensely loud field generators, bombs such as “bunker busters,” and even modern helicopters can cause hearing impairment if soldiers don’t take precautions.
- Unfortunately, many of the soldiers who come home with loss of hearing do not seek help. – Experts say that too few returning soldiers who suffer tinnitus or hearing loss go to a hearing specialist or audiologist upon returning home – they often live simply live with the problem. Incredibly, the average time between someone noticing hearing damage and getting help for it is 7 years.
- Neuroscience innovations may be a way to alleviate severe tinnitus. – Tinnitus cannot be cured completely at this time. However, it’s severity may be linked to maladies caused by serotonin loss, such as depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Some veterans with tinnitus have found that anti-depressants combined with other tinnitus therapies eased their chronic condition significantly.