Veterans & Hearing Loss: What You Should Know

An estimated 48 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss. Of these, over 2.7 million are U.S. military veterans who are receiving disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus. This estimate, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), highlights how many veterans experience hearing issues. A hearing injury is the top service related medical issue that veterans experience.

Over 2.7 million veterans in the United States receive disability benefits for either tinnitus or hearing loss, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates. In fact, a hearing injury is the top service related medical issue for veterans.

Gabrielle Saunders is the associate director of the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research, a VA-funded research facility in Portland, Oregon. She believes that the number of veterans with hearing related issues may be far higher than 2.7 million.

“Those are veterans who have been through the process and documented by the VA,” she notes.

Veterans and Hearing Problems

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an analysis showing that veterans were 30% more likely than non-veterans to have a severe hearing impairment.

According to the analysis, veterans who had served after September, 2001, were “four times more likely than non-veterans to have a severe hearing impairment.”

One of the primary causes for hearing problems among veterans is exposure to loud noise. Throughout the course of their career, military personnel can be exposed to dangerous levels of noise. Some of the more common sources of dangerous noise include: 

  • Firearms
  • Explosives
  • Heavy Machinery
  • Training
  • Jet Engines
  • Combat Operations

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) notes that prolonged exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels (dB) can cause NIHL. Normal human conversation is around 60dB. The noises that military personnel are exposed to often range from 140 dB up to (and in excess of) 180 dB.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can occur if you are repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of noise. It can also happen immediately, when exposed to excessively dangerous noise. Sounds in excess of 120 dB can potentially cause immediate damage to your hearing.

“At the close of fiscal year 2014, more than 933,000 Veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, and nearly 1.3 million received compensation for tinnitus,” the VA notes. And these numbers are growing.

Hearing Loss Support for Veterans

Veterans may be eligible for hearing loss support from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA Disability Compensation offers monthly tax-free payments for veterans. Veterans may also be eligible for low cost and free hearing healthcare through VA Health Benefits.

Click here to learn more about the VA benefits for service members.

Left untreated, hearing loss can have a profound impact on your quality of life. Don’t delay seeking treatment. If you would like to schedule a hearing assessment, get in touch with the hearing specialists at Anderson Audiology. Call us on 702-997-2964 or click here to request an appointment online.

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