Veterans and Hearing Loss

August 21, 2019
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If you have friends or family members who served our country overseas, there’s a good chance that they have tinnitus and/or hearing loss.

Hearing loss rates among veterans are much greater than among the general public. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, they are the number one and two conditions bought back by U.S. military veterans. Approximately 60% of veterans leaving from conflict zones reported tinnitus and hearing loss related to noise exposure.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Combat Zones

Noise-induced hearing loss happens as a result of exposure to hazardous noise volumes, whether in brief bursts, unique events, or over a long period of time. Research has shown that noise-induced hearing loss can result in as brief a period as eight hours with noise exposure in excess of 85 decibels. The window of time for hearing loss shortens as decibel levels increase.

Noises far exceed 85 decibels on the battlefield. A gunshot varies from 140 to 190 decibels, possibly causing instant hearing damage depending on the weapon and the nature of the exposure. The shooting mechanism of a gun registers at 115 decibels, while a bomb or grenade measures up to 190 decibels. Vehicle motors and communication devices placed in the ear also generate damaging levels of noise. 

Hearing loss makes it tougher for returning troops to form relationships with their friends and family members. Alongside the other issues veterans commonly suffer from once they leave the conflict zone, it could quickly lead to depression, social isolation and even cognitive decline and dementia.

Hearing protection

The provision of earplugs is one way to combat hearing harm. Foam earplugs can decrease noise levels significantly, a straightforward but effective solution. They can take dangerously high noise rates down to exposure levels that are acceptable for the human ear. Whenever firearms are used, whether in training activities or on the ground, hearing protection should be worn.

Many military personnel, however, are uneasy about using them in live combat scenarios. They feel that earplugs muffle too many sounds and impede their capacity to detect subtle sounds around them, and being conscious of all the sounds in your immediate area could be the difference between life and death. It’s true that traditional earplugs can interfere with communication or make it difficult to be fully aware of the environment. But it doesn’t follow that all ear protection have these traits.

Take custom-molded filtered earplugs. These earplugs come with interchangeable filters so that you can choose the amount of noise reduction you would like. The high-quality filters allow for reduced volume while maintaining the sound quality across the frequency spectrum. You could protect yourself from the rumble of a helicopter while still be able to hear others around you.

Clear Hearing and Audiology

Are you going to start your military service soon? We fit custom hearing protection devices to protect your ears in conflict zones. Our filtered hearing protection is capable of deadening loud noises while also enhancing the subtler noises needed for maintaining situational awareness. Make sure to contact us for a pair before you fly out.

If you or someone you know is already struggling with signs of hearing loss, contact us for a hearing evaluation or free trial of hearing aids!