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. Check out these 5 surprising facts about hearing loss among veterans to learn more.
- The most common post-service malady happens to be hearing damage or loss. – Hearing loss, as the most ubiquitous veteran injury, is followed in numbers by PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. IEDs (improvised explosive devices) can cause hearing damage just as much as commonplace military noise can. The deafening sounds of tank, plane, and ship engines contributes to temporary to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus, as do explosive devices and other loud weapons. 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.
- Soldiers are more likely to suffer hearing damage than civilians. – Veterans are 30 percent more likely than nonveterans to suffer hearing loss of the severe kind. Additionally, post-911 soldiers were actually four times more likely to lose their hearing than civilians.
- It may be that recent combat soldiers are likelier to lose their hearing than veterans of past conflicts. – Since IEDs (improvised explosive devices) have become more commonplace and weapons become bigger and louder, more soldiers are losing their hearing. 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.
- Neuroscience innovations may be a way to alleviate severe tinnitus. – 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. Some veterans with tinnitus have found that anti-depressants combined with other tinnitus therapies eased their chronic condition significantly.