When many people think of post-combat injuries among veterans, they think of missing limbs, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma. 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.
- Hearing loss is the most prevalent injury among post-combat veterans. – Hearing loss beats out PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as the number one service-connected disability. Loud explosions from bombs aren’t the only threat to hearing – general combat and everyday military noise can cause harm as well. 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. In fact, 414,000 post 9/11 soldiers have come home with some form of tinnitus or hearing loss.
- Veterans have been found to be more susceptible to loss of hearing than those who haven’t served in the military. – The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that soldiers are 30 percent more likely to lose their hearing than civilians. Even more concerning is that among those who served from September 2001 to March 2010, veterans were four times more like to suffer hearing loss 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.
- Many veterans suffering from hearing impairment don’t seek medical help right away. – According to experts, many soldiers with hearing loss or tinnitus choose to live with the problem, rather than getting help. Astoundingly, it takes an average of 7 years for a person to get help for hearing damage.
- 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.