When many people think of post-combat injuries among veterans, they think of missing limbs, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma. 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. Loud explosions from bombs aren’t the only threat to hearing – general combat and everyday military noise can cause harm as well. 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. An astounding 414,000 veterans serving post-9/11 have returned home with mild to severe tinnitus or hearing loss.
- Soldiers are more likely to suffer hearing damage than civilians. – 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. – Larger and louder weapons technology very likely contributes to higher numbers of veterans with hearing loss. Intensely loud field generators, bombs such as ‚Äúbunker busters,‚Äù and even modern helicopters can cause hearing impairment if soldiers don’t take precautions.
- Only a small number of soldiers returning home with damaged hearing actually get medical attention 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.
- Neuroscience innovations may be a way to alleviate 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.