Going into combat puts you at extreme risk for injury. Of all service-related injuries, the most common are hearing disorders. Specifically, hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Experts approximate that more than half of combat soldiers experience some degree of hearing loss due to their service. This percentage is much higher than it is among civilians, of whom 20 percent experience some degree of impairment. A loss of hearing affects more than your auditory abilities. Studies have shown that an impairment can also impact your mental, emotional and physical well-being.
In recent decades, the Pentagon has taken some initiatives 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.
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 isolation, 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.
To learn more about hearing disorders or find a provider specializing in tinnitus management, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing consultants. Our team, which includes some of the best audiologists in American Fork, are dedicated to providing innovative and patient-focused services. To learn more about our clinic, contact us today at 801-763-0724!