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Almost every individual in the military will be subjected to some form of high-intensity noise during their training.

This may be a siren, a bell, loud chanting, or even gunfire.

For those who get deployed, loud noises may become regular. And many of these noises go beyond “loud.” Explosions, guns, and military vehicle noises can all cause significant hearing loss and ear pain.

Unsurprisingly, hearing loss is one of the top two disabilities addressed by the VA.

In 2016, over one million veterans received VA compensation for hearing loss, and another 1.6 million received compensation for tinnitus — which is another sign of hearing loss.

Today, we’re going to look at why hearing loss is such a problem for U.S. troops (especially those who have been deployed to combat).

Hearing Loss and Decibels: The Harsh Realities of Combat

It’s estimated that 52% of combat-deployed veterans have moderate-to-severe hearing loss.

Ears are sensitive. Exposure to loud sounds like IEDs, gunfire, and jets can cause severe damage to the eardrum, middle ear, inner ear, and auditory nerves. Sounds can be measured in units called decibels.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing damage.

Here are some of the decibels that combat-deployed troops are subjected to:

  • Armored personnel carriers: 120 dB
  • Explosions: up to 200 dB
  • Gunfire: 155 – 200 dB
  • Jet engines: +140 dB
  • Cargo transport: 88 dB
  • Tanks: 115 dB
  • Helicopters: 105 dB

In other words, combat is loud. And almost all troops are subjected to decibel levels that can cause hearing damage.

Understanding the Reality of Hearing Loss for U.S. Troops

For many U.S. troops, hearing loss is an unavoidable side effect of combat. Not all wounds are visible. Research shows that proximity to combat significantly relates to hearing loss for military personnel.

And it’s not just active members.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is incredibly common among veterans. The VA purchases one out of every five hearing aids sold in America.

In recent years, the DOD has made efforts to combat hearing loss in military settings. Unfortunately, they’ve suffered a few drawbacks. For example, 3M combat earplugs deployed to millions of military personnel are now under serious scrutiny. According to hundreds of active members, the earplugs were defective.

Have You Suffered Hearing Loss from Active Duty?

Whether you’re an active member of the military or a veteran, hearing loss from military duty may be a very real part of your life.

If you feel like you’re having difficulty hearing people, turning up the volume louder than normal, or shying away from social situations due to hearing issues, get in touch with our world-class hearing professionals today.

The sooner you diagnose and recognize the problem, the sooner you can get proactive and tackle the issue. You didn’t sign up for hearing loss. But it may be part of your life anyway.

Please schedule an appointment with us to discover how we can help you combat your hearing issues.

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Melissa Gay

Melissa Gay has been in the business of creating hearing solutions for 25 years now. She understands the trials and tribulations related to hearing loss. Having a deaf sister, as a result of meningitis at the age of two, Melissa has grown up dealing with the challenges created by deafness.