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Hearing Loss is a Significant Factor for Many Veterans

RESTON, Va., Nov. 9, 2017—Given the fact that more than 37.5 million Americans suffer from some type of hearing loss, a growing number of consumers are having hearing tests and using hearing aids and other hearing assistive technologies. While the American Academy of Audiology is helping to educate the public on the importance of good hearing health, the organization also is trying to reach out to veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs Annual Benefits Report for FY2016 indicates there were 1,084,069 veterans receiving disability compensation for hearing loss and 1,610,911 were being compensated for tinnitus (the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external noise is present, frequently is associated with hearing loss).

“When they were service members, many veterans were exposed to loud noises from sources such as aircraft, gunfire, or blasts. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be caused by loud sound exposure,” said Jackie Clark, Ph.D., president of the American Academy of Audiology and clinical professor at the UT Dallas School of Brain & Behavior Sciences. “Veterans who were exposed to blasts or who sustained a traumatic brain injury may also have difficulty with processing speech in background noise or in group situations, in addition to difficulty with balance function.”

Auditory processing disorder is a condition where some veterans score normally on hearing tests but have difficulty understanding speech especially when background noise is present. The condition often can be associated with blast exposure. Veterans with traumatic brain injury also may experience hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance problems.

The severity of hearing loss sometimes can be reduced, improved, or reversed through surgery or medication. In many cases hearing loss is permanent; however, hearing aids and other hearing assistive technologies can help to improve hearing and communication abilities.

Though in the general population most people with hearing loss could be helped by hearing aids, only about one in five who would benefit from them actually use them.

Tinnitus, another condition that many veterans suffer with, is the number one disability among veterans. People with tinnitus may experience ringing sounds, a buzzing noise, a high-pitched whistle, or numerous other sounds. “Causes and effects vary and there isn’t a cure yet for tinnitus but there are tinnitus management techniques for learning how to manage reactions to tinnitus,” said Dr. Lynn Henselman, Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence, a collaboration between DoD and VA that focuses on the prevention, mitigation, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of hearing and balance problems in military Service members and their families and veterans. One such approach is Progressive Tinnitus Management, a program developed in VA and used in the VA and DoD,” added Henselman.

“While many veterans suffer with hearing impairment from exposure to loud noises associated with their time in the military, it is important that all veterans have their hearing checked,” Henselman said.

Henselman continued, “For these veterans, they may not only have noise-induced hearing loss from their military service but now age-related hearing loss may impact their ability to hear. Often, those who have lived with a hearing loss for a long time don’t realize the severity and how much benefit they’d receive from hearing aids and other hearing rehabilitation strategies.”

The American Academy of Audiology recommends that everyone see an audiologist to have their hearing checked. The Academy provides a list of licensed audiologists on its website: www.audiology.org. Click on “Find an Audiologist.”

12 Responses to “Hearing Loss is a Significant Factor for Many Veterans”

  1. Joe says:

    If the DOD ever bothered to add up the total cost for hearing loss, they’d Issue electronic ear pro to everyone instead of just the cool guys.

    Pro tip: hearing damage happens because of free radicals in the ear after exposure, take l-acetyl cysteine or acetyl l carnitine from GNC to reduce damage up to 24 hours after the fact.

  2. Eddie H says:

    WHAT???!!!

  3. Beer Ninja says:

    WHATS THAT GUNNY

  4. PTMcCain says:

    “Pro tip: hearing damage happens because of free radicals in the ear after exposure, take l-acetyl cysteine or acetyl l carnitine from GNC to reduce damage up to 24 hours after the fact.”

    Sorry, friend, that is total crap.

    Hearing loss is caused by the accumulated death in the inner ear of your stereocilia. These are the mechanosensing organelles of hair cells, which respond to fluid motion in numerous types of animals for various functions, including hearing and balance.

    They are killed off by high noise levels.

    Once they are gone, they are gone.

    Your “free radical” post is BS.

    • Sean's says:

      Is that why the military has actually been testing pills for hearing loss that battle the whole free radical thing? Cause its BS?

    • PNWTO says:

      You didn’t even read the links I posted or bothered to look up any journals? Paul, I know getting banned all over the internet for your unethical behavior and Dunning-Kruger stances is time-consuming, but at least try to better yourself.

  5. This was discussed with a number of people at the recent DSEI expo. Defence decision makers seem to easily understand the need for airplanes, ships, tanks and so forth, at the cost of hundreds of millions or billions of EUR / $ / £.

    They also often understand purchase of camoflage, body armor, hearing and eye protection = enhancing soldier survivability. But when it comes to suppressors, there seems to be a lack of understanding or knowledge with regards to their benefits, although SOF units in many of the countries have utilized them for a long time.

    This applies to the law enforcement side as well. Some countries are a bit more evolved in this, but a lot of countries are lagging behind.

    At the same time, the total sums for hearing damage compensations run also in the hundreds of millions or billions of EUR / $ / £, a large percentage of which is from the soldiers / LE officer’s personal weapon.

  6. Stacy0311 says:

    The VA Denial of my claim for hearing loss was a masterpiece of bureaucratic logic.
    “Despite 13 years of service in USMC infantry, to include 2 years aboard an aircraft carrier, followed by 12 years as US Army armor officer, we do not find that the SM’s hearing loss is due to service related issues. Hearing loss in left ear is 40% of baseline and is service connected. Hearing loss in right ear is 30% of baseline and is NOT service connected. Therefore, SM is still within acceptable range of hearing and is not entitled to compensation.”

    My response to the VA official reading this to me was “Huh?”

    With that being said, the hearing tests at the VA do go well beyond the “push the button when you hear the tone”.

    Always wear hearing protection when and where practical. And use sunscreen…..

  7. Scubasteve says:

    My experience in the military was that my baseline appeared higher each time I went to audiology, keeping me within the normal limits, even though I couldn’t hear some of the sounds as the years went by.

    My VA experience went into much more detail, but all the testing is still done in complete quiet, which I believe is just not realistic.

    My non-medical, non-scientific, personal opinion only is that conducting the tests in complete silence is worthless. You are listening way harder than normal, and you tend to fall into the pattern of the sounds. I believe if there was a way to conduct the testing to include having “mall noise” or talking through a barrier (i.e.- like a bank teller, or ordering at the DFAC) with the normal background noise, you’d get a better idea of how people are affected.

  8. pbr549 says:

    In the decade I was in the Army, before I ever went to combat, nobody had cool guy ear pro. We wore ear plugs for static ranges, and in the birds before a jump, but for maneuver ranges, we never wore ear pro.

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