Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Approximately 20 percent of all Americans have experienced some level of hearing loss, but there is one particular portion of the population where that percentage is significantly larger – veterans, particularly those who’ve served in war zones. The most prevalent service-related disabilities among military personnel that served in Iraq and Afghanistan are hearing loss and tinnitus. In 2011, over 800,000 veterans received disability benefits; of those, 18% received these benefits as the result of tinnitus or hearing loss, compared with 5.3% who received similar benefits as the result of suffering PTSD.

This adds up to a severe public health concern that is expected to worsen. As these veterans get older, normal age-related hearing loss will be compounded on top of their noise-induced hearing loss. As a condition, tinnitus is disturbing in itself as a result of the ringing or buzzing sounds one hears constantly, but tinnitus also often causes disturbing side effects such as mood changes, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nausea, vision changes, and depression. But tinnitus is only part of the problem, because many veterans have experienced more profound hearing loss or deafness.

According to Brett Buchanan, a VA-accredited insurance claims agent who has made a study of hearing loss in veterans, “The military, in general, is just a high noise-producing environment.” Sailors in the Navy spend most of their time below decks in environments he describes as filled with “the constant drumming of engines and metal-on-metal noise.” In the Army or Marines, soldiers spend most of their day inside or near noisy vehicles such as tanks or transport carriers. Of course, in a war zone this background noise is often punctuated by the sounds of gunfire and explosions, creating pretty much an ideal environment for creating hearing loss. To their credit, the military does what it can to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, providing soldiers with earplugs and other forms of hearing protection. These safety measures are used consistently in training, but are a secondary concern in actual battle. When faced with bullets flying, IEDs and mortars exploding, the soldier isn’t going to turn back for ear plugs. It is worth noting that a soldier wearing ear plugs may not be able to hear whispered instructions or may miss clues about the enemies whereabouts.

The military has been working on ear plugs that cancel the loudest noises, while allowing hushed conversations. Meanwhile, the VA has become the largest single consumer of hearing aids in the U.S., providing them to veterans who need them at little or no cost. So for veterans who are reading this and who may have experienced some form of hearing loss, please get in touch with us. Allow our trained professionals to help diagnose the nature of your hearing problems, recommend the best solutions to those problems, and help you work with the VA to obtain an effective hearing aid.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today