What is the #1 veteran injury among ALL veterans?
It’s hearing loss and tinnitus. Over 60% of post-9/11 vets experience tinnitus (ringing
in the ears) or hearing loss. Hearing loss from military service is long-standing and
the most documented injury among veterans. Tinnitus varies from intermittent perceived
sounds to continuous, disruptive sound, causing great distress. The ears are very susceptible to injury, especially
from blast waves, where inner ear structure is disrupted by sudden pressure and vacuum
waves. Blast injuries can also cause injury to the brain — so hearing tests are normal,
but the brain doesn’t translate the sound properly. Hearing issues can fall behind trauma
injuries commanding immediate medical attention. War SOUND exposure is loud, percussive and
often repetitive, causing damage to the specialized hair cells in the ear – which do not regrow.
Loud sounds can damage the auditory nerve and inner ear, causing vertigo, dizziness,
and balance issues as well. If 60 decibels is deemed safe, a helicopter registers 100
decibels and being within 50 feet of an exploding grenade exposes the SM to 150-160 decibels. Blast pressure can cause eardrum rupture starting
as low as 5 psi – explosives in IRQ and AFG exceed 60 psi and hearing loss may present
later, and perhaps as part of a TBI diagnosis. Hearing baseline tests are helpful to show
service causality, and new technology exists for phone usage and smaller, ergonomic hearing
aids may help. Don’t ignore this quality of life issue – hearing
connects us to people, and is more than an annoyance to many. Help exists and an audiologist
can find the treatment that best works for you.