Veterans and Hearing Loss
Due to the efforts of the Wounded Warrior Project and others like it, we have become more aware of military and veteran health issues like PTSD and traumatic injuries, but we often overlook one of the most common military service-related injuries: hearing loss and ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus. Although the military has been implementing hearing conservation programs for decades, a recent report states that more than 60 percent of veterans return home with some degree of hearing loss, with more than 445,000 currently receiving compensation for hearing loss and 395,000 for tinnitus. Considering the sounds of war, the fact that service men and women suffer from varying degrees of hearing loss is no surprise. But there is hope. Several hearing awareness companies, like , have committed to serving veterans by to hearing aids and quality hearing healthcare.
Permanent hearing damage is often a direct result of sudden, loud explosions, the roar of airplane or ship engines, or even gunfire. These loud noises can cause the sensitive hairs in the ear to become damaged and can even degenerate nerve cells in the ear. Once this happens, electrical signals aren’t properly transmitted and hearing loss occurs.
Keep in mind that a single gunshot can emit 140dBs of sound; a dangerous level. For more information on decibel levels of noise, visit www.onedaywithoutsound.org.
Untreated hearing loss may lead to depression, anxiety and social isolation. While hearing loss is not reversible, its effects on your quality of life can be mitigated, and the first step is recognizing the signs and symptoms.
Recognizing the Signs
· Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
· An inappropriate response to what is said
· Difficulty following group conversations
· Defensiveness about communication problems
· Intently watching speakers’ mouths
· Turning head to side to “hear better”
· Being unaware with volume levels, such as talking too loudly or too softly and/or having music and TV volume on high levels
· Speech deterioration
· Fatigue, insecurity, and indecision
· Social withdrawal
It’s important to remember that hearing loss is not a weakness, and there are many options available to those suffering from it. With hearing aids, hearing can be improved. Modern hearing aids are designed to be discreet, unobtrusive and require minimal upkeep.