Missing appendages, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma: These are what many people think of when they think about post-combat injuries. However, many fail to consider another consequence of combat: hearing loss. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
- The number one injury soldiers suffer from combat is loss of hearing. – Hearing loss is even more common than PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). IEDs (improvised explosive devices) can cause hearing damage just as much as commonplace military noise can. Tinnitus and hearing loss, both short- and long-term, are also often caused by loud engines of war such as planes, warships, and combat tanks as well as loud weapons and bombs. 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.
- Veterans have been found to be more susceptible to loss of hearing than those who haven’t served in the military. – Veterans are 30 percent more likely than nonveterans to suffer hearing loss of the severe kind. 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 and powerful “bunker buster” bombs are extremely loud and dangerous to the ears. Even helicopters can cause loss of hearing.
- Many veterans suffering from hearing impairment don’t seek medical help right away. – Most soldiers with hearing damage or tinnitus avoid seeking out help for their injury upon returning home, according to experts. They often let it go for long periods of time. 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. – Tinnitus cannot be cured completely at this time. However, it’s severity may be linked to maladies caused by serotonin loss, such as depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Fortunately, with the help of tinnitus therapies and antidepressants, some veterans have found relief from severe tinnitus.