Missing appendages, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma: These are what many people think of when they think about post-combat injuries. Hearing loss, though, may not often come to mind. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
- The most common post-service malady happens to be hearing damage or loss. – 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.
- 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.
- Hearing loss may be more prevalent now than it was for soldiers in the past. – Since IEDs (improvised explosive devices) have become more commonplace and weapons become bigger and louder, more soldiers are losing their hearing. Field generators and powerful “bunker buster” bombs are extremely loud and dangerous to the ears. Even helicopters can cause loss of hearing.
- Unfortunately, many of the soldiers who come home with loss of hearing do not seek help. – Experts say that too few returning soldiers who suffer tinnitus or hearing loss go to a hearing specialist or audiologist upon returning home – they often live simply live with the problem. Astoundingly, it takes an average of 7 years for a person to get help for hearing damage.
- Breakthroughs in neuroscience may help those who suffer severe tinnitus. – Some scientists assert that low serotonin levels may be linked to how severe a person’s tinnitus can be. Low serotonin can cause insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Some veterans with tinnitus have found that anti-depressants combined with other tinnitus therapies eased their chronic condition significantly.