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Veterans and Hearing Loss

Hearing-Loss

By Debbie Gregory.

Hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans, including more than half of those over age 75. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), hearing problems are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.

The most likely reason that veterans have higher rates of hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or other type of noise that originates in the head) than the general public is due to the noise levels encountered while in the military.

Many veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to blasts during their service. A blast can compromise not only the ear itself, but also the connection between the ear and the brain.

Additionally, sensory problems are common among veterans who have had traumatic brain injury.

Last year alone, more than 293,000 veterans were awarded service-connected disability for tinnitus and hearing loss.  In total, more than 2.7 million Veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

The only percentage rating available for tinnitus is a maximum of 10%, regardless of whether you have ringing in one ear or in both ears.  But if you also have hearing loss, you are entitled to one rating for hearing loss and another for tinnitus.

The VA provides comprehensive hearing health care services to veterans as part of their medical benefits, with direct access to audiology clinics for evaluation and treatment of hearing loss. Hearing health services includes ever aspect from prevention to diagnostics to treatment.

VA researchers, engineers, and clinicians are looking for ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing loss. They are also addressing a wide range of technological, medical, rehabilitative, and social issues associated with tinnitus and blast exposure.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Tinnitus Tops the List of Veteran Disabilities

tinnitus

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.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.