When people think about the ill-effects of military services, they immediately think of post-traumatic stress disorder, severe physical disabilities, or brain injuries. In contrast, one of the most common consequences of military service —hearing loss— often only appears way down the list.
So, how common is hearing loss in military personnel? A 2015 study of 48,500 participants sought to determine the impact of combat on hearing in the US military.
It comes as no surprise that exposure to gunfire noise and explosions can cause hearing loss. But some of the facts and figures that emerged from this and other studies may be new to you.
Hearing Loss Is the Number One Disability among Veterans
Bomb detonations and combat noise emerged as a major cause of hearing loss among veterans. What’s more, hearing loss in military personnel appears to be on the rise since 9/11 as weapons are getting more sophisticated. Over 71% military personnel who’ve fought since 9/11 reported exposure to loud noise, and more than 15% returned home with hearing difficulties.
Veterans Are More Likely to Suffer from Hearing Loss than Civilians
Statistics also suggest that veterans are 30% more likely to develop hearing loss than civilians.
New Weapons Cause More Damage
Newly-developed weapons are extremely loud, thus causing more hearing loss in military personnel.
On Average It Takes 7 Years Before Veterans Seek Help for Hearing Loss
No doubt the most surprising statistic is the average time it takes for a veteran to seek help. On average, soldiers only seek help with their hearing issues seven years after noticing a deterioration.
Hearing loss in military personnel is a common issue. Unfortunately, it has not received the attention it deserves, and one would hope that this issue is taken seriously. If you’re a veteran, do seek medical attention at once if your hearing has deteriorated.