Missing appendages, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma: These are what many people think of when they think about post-combat injuries. What many often don’t consider is hearing loss as a severe combat injury. Here are 5 facts you may not know about hearing loss among veterans.
- 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.
- Soldiers are more likely to suffer hearing damage than civilians. – The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that soldiers are 30 percent more likely to lose their hearing than civilians. Worse yet, those who served after 9/11 were found to be four times more likely to be afflicted with some sort of hearing impairment 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. Intensely loud field generators, bombs such as “bunker busters,” and even modern helicopters can cause hearing impairment if soldiers don’t take precautions.
- Unfortunately, many of the soldiers who come home with loss of hearing do not seek help. – 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.