Addressing Military-Related Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can affect individuals of all demographics, but there are certain risk factors that may increase your chance of developing a noise-related impairment. One notable factor is occupation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 22 million American workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels. For combat soldiers, this phenomenon is even more relevant. The prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus—ringing in the ears—in military personnel make hearing disorders the injury most commonly sustained during combat.

In recent decades, the Pentagon has taken some initiative to improve accessibility to hearing protection for combat soldiers. Retired soldier Stephen Carlson reported in The Washington Post that mandatory forms of hearing protection—ranging from over-the-ear headphones to noise-canceling earplugs—were provided to soldiers, but rarely used in practice. A common explanation for this practice is survivability. Soldiers fear missing commands or being unaware of their surrounds in high-pressure situations.

hearing loss and the military

Further discussions have been held at the governmental level to determine more effective solutions. In 2013, the Office of Naval Research began an initiative to find better hearing preservation alternatives. The organization met with experts in the industry of hearing health to discuss the future of hearing protection research, which will be focused on:

  • Creating personalized solutions
  • Developing medical solutions to maintain auditory function
  • Measuring noise exposure in combat

Experts in the industry of hearing disorders have found hearing loss is not an isolated condition. When left untreated, it can lead to social withdrawal, depression, cognitive decline and heightened anxiety. Considering the role hearing plays in our overall well-being, these hearing loss treatment and protection initiatives could be life-changing for veterans.

While there is no cure for hearing loss, treating the condition can prevent these unwanted effects from developing. The use of hearing aids or sound masking technologies can greatly reduce complications caused by hearing loss or tinnitus. To learn more about treating your hearing in Portland, Oregon, we encourage you to contact our team of hearing consultants. Our expert audiologists take an individualized approach in their treatment of hearing-related conditions. To learn more about our staff or services, call (503) 222-3638.