When many people think of post-combat injuries among veterans, they think of missing limbs, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma. What many often don’t consider is hearing loss as a severe combat injury. 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. IEDs (improvised explosive devices) can cause hearing damage just as much as commonplace military noise can. 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. Hearing loss is especially common among post 9/11 veterans. Indeed, the numbers of soldiers who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus after the attacks on the World Trade Center swelled to 414,000.
Veterans have been found to be more susceptible to loss of hearing than those who haven’t served in the military. – According to the Center for Disease Control, post-combat soldiers are 30 percent more likely to have severe hearing impairment than nonveterans. 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.
Only a small number of soldiers returning home with damaged hearing actually get medical attention right away. – 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.
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.