When considering post-combat injuries in veterans, PTSD, missing limbs, and brain damage may come to mind. However, many fail to consider another consequence of combat: hearing loss. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
The number one injury soldiers suffer from combat is loss of hearing. – Hearing loss is even more common than PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Loud explosions from bombs aren’t the only threat to hearing – general combat and everyday military noise can cause harm as well. 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. Soldiers who have served since September 2011 are especially afflicted with hearing damage. In fact, 414,000 post 9/11 soldiers have come home with some form of tinnitus or hearing loss.
Veterans have been found to be more susceptible to loss of hearing than those who haven’t served in the military. – Veterans are 30 percent more likely than nonveterans to suffer hearing loss of the severe kind. 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.
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. Intensely loud field generators, bombs such as “bunker busters,” and even modern helicopters can cause hearing impairment if soldiers don’t take precautions.
Many veterans suffering from hearing impairment don’t seek medical help right away. – Most soldiers with hearing damage or tinnitus avoid seeking out help for their injury upon returning home, according to experts. They often let it go for long periods of time. 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. Tinnitus therapies combined with antidepressants have aided some veterans who are chronic sufferers of tinnitus.