Missing appendages, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma: These are what many people think of when they think about post-combat injuries. However, many fail to consider another consequence of combat: hearing loss. Check out these 5 surprising facts about hearing loss among veterans to learn more.
The number one injury soldiers suffer from combat is loss of hearing. – Hearing loss beats out PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as the number one service-connected disability. Severe hearing loss is commonly caused by bomb detonations and general military and combat noise. Tinnitus and hearing loss, both short- and long-term, are also often caused by loud engines of war such as planes, warships, and combat tanks as well as loud weapons and bombs. Veterans of the post-9/11 conflicts are the most affected population in terms of hearing loss. An astounding 414,000 veterans serving post-9/11 have returned home with mild to severe tinnitus or hearing loss.
More veterans have hearing loss than non-veterans. – Veterans are 30 percent more likely than nonveterans to suffer hearing loss of the severe kind. Worse yet, those who served after 9/11 were found to be four times more likely to be afflicted with some sort of hearing impairment than nonveterans.
Soldiers now may suffer more hearing damage than those who have served in past decades. – With the advent of improvised explosive devices and more powerful combat technology, more veterans are coming home with hearing loss than their predecessors. Field generators, “bunker buster” bombs, and loud transportation such as helicopters can be deafening.
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. In fact, most people will wait an average of 7 years from initially noticing hearing loss to actually seeking medical attention.
Severe tinnitus may be eased, thanks to advances in neuroscience. – While there is no cure for tinnitus, some scientists believe there is a correlation between serotonin depletion (which can lead to depression, anxiety, and insomnia) and the severity of tinnitus. Fortunately, with the help of tinnitus therapies and antidepressants, some veterans have found relief from severe tinnitus.