When considering post-combat injuries in veterans, PTSD, missing limbs, and brain damage may come to mind. Hearing loss, though, may not often come to mind. These 5 facts about veterans and hearing loss may surprise you.
- Hearing loss is the most prevalent injury among post-combat veterans. – Hearing loss beats out PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as the number one service-connected disability. 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. In fact, 414,000 post 9/11 soldiers have come home with some form of tinnitus or hearing loss.
- 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. Additionally, post-911 soldiers were actually four times more likely to lose their hearing than civilians.
- Hearing loss may be more prevalent now than it was for soldiers in the past. – 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, “bunker buster” bombs, and loud transportation such as helicopters can be deafening.
- Unfortunately, many of the soldiers who come home with loss of hearing do not seek help. – 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. Incredibly, the average time between someone noticing hearing damage and getting help for it is 7 years.
- Breakthroughs in neuroscience may help those who suffer 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. Some veterans with tinnitus have found that anti-depressants combined with other tinnitus therapies eased their chronic condition significantly.