By Debbie Gregory.
When it comes to veteran disabilities, tinnitus comes in at number one. Over 150,000 veterans were diagnosed with tinnitus in 2015, and nearly 1.5 million veterans are currently receiving disability benefits for it.
While the ringing, hissing, or other sound in the ears or head associated with tinnitus present affects at least one in every 10 American adults, veterans have higher rates. This is more than likely a result of the noise levels veterans encountered while in the military, given the close proximity to gunfire, machinery, aircraft, etc.
Subjective tinnitus is a condition whereby only the sufferer can hear the noise produced within their head, and objective tinnitus is a condition whereby others are able to hear sounds like clicks or crackling inside the middle ear. Tinnitus is just a nuisance for some, but for others, it can be a life altering condition, leading to debilitating mental health problems such as depression and anxiety
While there is no specific cure for tinnitus, identifying the specific cause through testing (lab work, X-rays and balance tests) can result in eliminating it. But unfortunately, many causes cannot be identified.
Treatment options may include medication, concentration and relaxation exercises, white noise and hearing aids.
The majority of people with tinnitus, about 80 percent, are not bothered by it; it doesn’t affect their sleep or their ability to concentrate. The small percentage of people who struggle with the noise in their head can be more prone to other. It is not yet understood why tinnitus affects people so differently.
For veterans who may have the symptoms of tinnitus, it is important to apply for disability benefits from the VA. Then, the VA will schedule an exam for you with an auditory specialist. If the doctor determines you have tinnitus or any related conditions, you will receive a disability rating that can lead to disability benefits.