Most Americans are aware that freedom does not come without a price. All too often, our troops pay the ultimate price to protect our freedoms. Many of our heroes who survive combat carry wounds and scars as a result of their unselfish sacrifice. Combat wounds in modern warfare are dramatically different from past wars, with hearing loss being among the most common of all ongoing health conditions veterans face. A closer look at the threat of hearing loss among U.S. troops is among the ways Audiology Associates honors our heroes and to encourages our veterans to seek help.
The Nature of Battle Wounds Have Changed
From the earliest known wars up to modern times, the vast majority of wounds treated were penetration wounds from swords, spears, lances, and bullets. However, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery reported that almost three out of every four combat wounds in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2005 to 2009 were a result of explosive mechanisms.
Though some of the explosive mechanism wounds sustained by soldiers are external damage to limbs and flesh, the most common ongoing wound, which often goes unnoticed, is damage to tissues and structures required for healthy hearing.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Even as wounded soldiers are cleared for active duty after explosive mechanical wounding, the noise-induced damage to audiological system tissues and structures continues to produce debilitating effects. This form of hearing loss damage comes either from a single or several successive extreme noise events, like explosions, or from continuous exposure to excessive noise levels above 85 dBA for an extended period of time.
For purposes of perspective, some typical noise levels are:
- A round fired from the gun of a battleship is about 128 dBA.
- A jet engine at 100 ft. distance produces a noise level of 140 dBA.
- The noise of an exploding missile can range between 170 dBA to 190 dBA (more than double the level of non-damaging sound).
The Prevalence of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss among U.S. Troops
Ringing, buzzing, humming, or hissing in the ears, known as tinnitus, is among the most common indicators that someone has sustained noise-induced damage from an extreme noise event or continuous exposure to extreme noise levels. Estimates place the number of veterans affected by tinnitus at 2 million and the number of veterans with hearing loss at 1.25 million. These are the top two ongoing disabilities addressed by the VA.
Advanced Hearing Aid Technology Provides the Best Solution for Veterans
As the number of hearing damage cases climbs, the U.S. Department of Defense has met the challenge of providing active-duty soldiers with more technologically advanced hearing protection. While this serves to limit the number of new cases, the best solution for veterans with hearing damage is advanced technology hearing aids.
Audiology Associates Is Dedicated to Serving the Needs of Veterans
If left untreated, both tinnitus and hearing loss decrease the quality of life you fought to defend as an American soldier. The team and I at Audiology Associates believe that you deserve to live an active, independent, and rewarding lifestyle.
We are passionate about providing our veterans with the highest level of hearing healthcare available. If you or a loved one has been struggling with tinnitus or other forms of hearing loss, start the process of hearing restoration by scheduling a comprehensive hearing assessment or feel free to call us at (410) 944-3100.