Veterans and Hearing Loss
It’s no mystery that loud noise in the workplace has proven to be one of the biggest contributors to the hearing loss epidemic. But in light of Veterans Day, many tend to overlook the fact that veterans are returning home to fight a new battle all on their own…against hearing loss caused by their profession. Over time, the exposure to loud firearms, explosions and aircrafts can be detrimental to a veterans hearing health. Some of the more extreme cases result in hearing loss, while others are faced with struggling against tinnitus.
A recent study suggests that approximately 60% of veterans that come home face the troubling effects of hearing loss. Some have even gone as far as suggesting that both tinnitus and hearing loss are the top injuries that occur as a result of veterans being in combat. In the past decade alone, over 1 million service members were faced with some degree of hearing loss.
Military-related hearing loss can derive from unpredictable head trauma or the loud noises that they are continuously exposed to. Studies suggest that people whom experience 85 decibels or more of noise results in damage to the delicate structure of their inner ear. While in combat, veterans may have been exposed to levels of noise that are considered unhealthy for their hearing. For example, heavy artillery produces 185 decibels of noise, over double the level that is deemed harmful. Not to mention, helicopters produce 105 decibels, pistols emit 157 decibels and even an ambulance creates 85 decibels!
Just last year, 414,000 veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan alone experienced hearing loss as a result of their term. Studies even suggest that veterans are 30% more at risk to have severe hearing implications than nonveterans, with recent soldiers being 4x more likely! Hearing tends to be overlooked when it comes to safety in the military, as marine, Mauricio Mota recounts, mentioning that preventative equipment was “around somewhere.” In another case, Mark Brogan, an ex army captain, mentions that among brain and spinal injuries, hearing loss was been the most debilitating physical trauma that has persistently plagued him. The issue has grown to become almost a social norm after leaving military duty, as many services acknowledge the issue and offer therapy. However, that doesn’t change the fact that there is still an underlying issue the fails to be addressed when it comes to the military and hearing health.
Image Credit: NowiHear