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. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
Hearing loss is the most prevalent injury among post-combat veterans. – Hearing loss is even more common than PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Severe hearing loss is commonly caused by bomb detonations and general military and combat noise. Improvised explosive devices, loud weapons, and other sounds such as the engines of ships, planes, and tanks can cause tinnitus and temporary to permanent loss of hearing. Soldiers who have served since September 2011 are especially afflicted with hearing damage. Indeed, the numbers of soldiers who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus after the attacks on the World Trade Center swelled to 414,000.
More veterans have hearing loss than non-veterans. – 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.
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.
Only a small number of soldiers returning home with damaged hearing actually get medical attention right away. – According to experts, many soldiers with hearing loss or tinnitus choose to live with the problem, rather than getting help. 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. Tinnitus therapies combined with antidepressants have aided some veterans who are chronic sufferers of tinnitus.