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, as the most ubiquitous veteran injury, is followed in numbers by PTSD, or 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. Veterans of the post-9/11 conflicts are the most affected population in terms of hearing loss. 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. 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.
- 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, “bunker buster” bombs, and loud transportation such as helicopters can be deafening.
- Many veterans suffering from hearing impairment don’t seek medical help right away. – According to experts, many soldiers with hearing loss or tinnitus choose to live with the problem, rather than getting help. 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. Fortunately, with the help of tinnitus therapies and antidepressants, some veterans have found relief from severe tinnitus.