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The two most common health conditions in the US for military veterans are tinnitus and hearing loss, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you are a military service member or are about to go on duty, get a hearing test from us first. If you’re a veteran, it’s important to get your hearing tested and treated and if you’re getting ready to go to the military, setting your hearing baseline level and speaking to us about hearing protection is vital. Hearing protection is now compulsory for all active-duty members of the armed forces.
Hearing Loss and Veterans
Veterans who work in active war zones have the highest proportion of hearing loss rates, much higher than those of the general public. Those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular recorded exceptionally high levels of hearing loss and tinnitus. In 2017, there were 1.79 million tinnitus insurance claimants and 1.16 million seeking hearing loss damages.
This is due to noise-induced hearing loss, or in other words, hearing loss due to overly loud noise exposure. Noise-induced hearing loss is often incremental, resulting from recurrent loud noise exposure. It can also be instantaneous while standing near an earthquake, for example, or some other extremely loud sound, such as the explosions experienced during active service. It’s sad that our soldiers still experience hearing loss because it can be completely avoided through the use of hearing protection.
The barriers to regular use of hearing protection on the battlefield
It’s always a good idea to use hearing protection whether military personnel are training or engage in active duty. The problem is that many feel the protection compromises their situational awareness, potentially opening them up for attack. It’s an understandable reaction, given the soldiers are put in life-or-death situations on a daily basis.
But what many don’t realize is that there are hearing protection systems which have been developed to overcome this concern. Tactical earplugs for example have a switch which toggles between protection from persistent noise or sudden noise like explosions.
Be careful about the hearing protection you choose
We can all agree that hearing protection is essential for all military personnel. But a recent scandal has cast a spotlight on the quality of protection, especially that developed for combat.
The company 3M was forced to settle in a recent course case for providing faulty earplugs to the US military. According to reports, the company provided this protection knowing full well that they were ‘too short to insert correctly into users’ ears’ and that they were easily loosened. This protection was sold to the US military for years, damaging the hearing of a generation of veterans.
Although much more stringent checks are placed on the quality of hearing protection for our service men and women, we still recommend getting a custom-fitted pair, as these offer only the best protection and comfort.
Treating Hearing Loss vital for veterans
For those who have recently returned from service, it’s essential that they get their hearing checked as soon as possible. Many veterans return and find it difficult to understand speech in places with background noise and find it difficult to reconnect with friends and family. This makes it harder to build and maintain relationships with those they love, and can lead to those with hearing loss withdrawing socially.
Others will develop a ringing in the ears, which can make people more irritable and interfere with sleep schedules. This doesn’t deserve to happen to those who have spent time protecting our country, and it’s essential that they get the help they need.
Has one of your family members recently returned from active duty, and you have noticed a change in their hearing? Give us a call today so that we can book them a hearing test. Or maybe you have returned yourself and find it hard to reconnect with your loved ones. We run comprehensive hearing tests and can recommended devices that help restore your confidence in any environment, no matter you budget, lifestyle or hearing loss needs.