Why are veterans at higher risk for hearing loss?

More than 38 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, according to the Center for Hearing and Communication. The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) figures that more than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree, which can be the result of noise damage or from damage to a nerve. In fact, hearing loss is the most common and tinnitus is the third most common military related disability among veterans.

In addition, millions of veterans are treated with ototoxic medications, including antibiotics, loop diuretics, antineoplastic drugs, antimalerial drugs and salicylates such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin. Ototoxic medications are known to accelerate any pre-existing hearing loss.

Along with the noise and mediations, a veteran may suffer from a blown-out eardrum after a blast or injury. While this may heal over time, hearing loss may still occur.

Veterans may be at higher risk of hearing loss and tinnitus because of poorly implemented military protection programs against hearing loss and also lack of hearing tests on military bases. Many veterans do not realize they have hearing problems until they are unable to hear speech or communicate effectively.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.