Why Do So Many US Troops Have Hearing Loss?

While non-visible military injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have — thankfully — been receiving more attention over the past few years, we have a long way to go before all of our bases are truly covered.

It turns out that hearing loss and tinnitus are actually the top two service-connected disabilities among veterans. With how common these problems are, why aren’t more people talking about it?

Why Do Service Members Suffer from Hearing Loss?

According to Military.com, one of the most common types of combat wounds is from explosive devices. It’s easy for the mind to immediately go to things like shrapnel injuries when you hear that, but hearing loss is the most likely injury from being around explosives.

Our auditory functions are incredibly sensitive to loud noises. When an injury occurs involving our hearing, those tissues are unable to regenerate or heal themselves, as certain tissues can do in other areas of the body.

More than 1.25 million veterans suffer from varying degrees of hearing loss, while 2 million more suffer from tinnitus — a pervasive ringing in the ears that, while less severe than official hearing loss, is equally distracting.

Why is this just a prominent problem in the military?

It’s been reported in the past that various groups within the military have been given defective ear protection. 3M, the company that produced the faulty earplugs, has ongoing lawsuits from hundreds of veterans.

But there’s more here than a few batches of faulty earplugs. The military needs to prioritize the health of its service members, both with visible injuries and non-visible injuries.

Common Signs of Hearing Loss

To be treated for hearing loss, it’s essential to know the signs to look out for that you or a loved one may be affected by it. Common symptoms of hearing loss include:

  • Turning up the volume on the TV
  • Asking others to repeat themselves during conversations
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Muffled speech or sounds
  • Withdrawing from conversations
  • Difficulty distinguishing words while there is background noise
  • Avoiding social settings

Trauma-induced hearing loss can occur when the inner ear is damaged. Exposure to loud noises can cause damage to nerve cells found on the cochlea that send signals to the brain.

That damage causes the signals not to be transmitted accurately, resulting in hearing loss.

It’s also possible for the eardrum to rupture due to exposure to loud noises or sudden changes in pressure.

What to do if You Suspect Hearing Loss

It’s essential to take action as soon as you suspect hearing loss in yourself or a loved one. Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment by visiting our website or calling us at (540)908-9494.

Now, more than ever, your health and safety is our top priority, so we’re also able to schedule telehealth appointments for a contact-less way to make sure your hearing needs are met.

We can’t wait to assist you in your hearing needs.

And, if you’re a veteran, we thank you for your service!