Johnson Law Offices is not engaged in 3M Earplug Lawsuits. All the information provided is made only for informative and educational purposes.
Table of Contents
How common is Hearing Loss in veterans?
Hearing loss is a common lasting effect of active service in the military, as all active-duty personnel must undergo basic training that exposes soldiers, sailors, and airmen to live fire.
It affects more than 28 million Americans, including more than half of those over age 75.
Veterans who have spent time on active duty may have also endured loud explosions, wounds that affect the ear canals, or trauma resulting from violent blows to the head.
“As a result, many veterans now suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus that is traceable to their time on active duty.” 
Hearing problems are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans. 
Some hearing loss can be reversed through surgery or medication. In other cases, hearing loss is permanent but can be reduced through the use of hearing aids.
What veterans need to know about hearing loss and tinnitus is that fortunately, you can pursue a physical condition claim for veterans’ compensation benefits if you currently have hearing loss or tinnitus because of your service even if you do not have an official diagnosis.
How common is Tinnitus in veterans?
Tinnitus is the number-one disability among veterans and affects at least 1 in 10 American adults.
People with tinnitus describe ringing sounds, a buzzing sound, a high-pitched whistle, or numerous other sounds.
The causes and effects of tinnitus vary from person to person, and because of that tinnitus has many causes.
VA (Veteran Affairs) believes the approach to treating it should be interdisciplinary, and because there is no cure for tinnitus, the VA’s goal is not to silence the sounds it causes – but to help patients manage their reactions. 
“About 80 percent of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it, because it does not affect their sleep or their ability to concentrate.”
Those who struggle with the noise in their head can be more prone to other mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Tinnitus differs from person to person
The sound of tinnitus can take many forms. It can be a sharp screech, dull hum, or soft hiss. For others, it manifests as a continuous tone, clicking beats, or pulsating whoosh.
It can be constant throughout the day or fluctuate in intensity. In some cases, the tinnitus disappears either on its own or with medical attention. However, for the majority of veterans who suffer from tinnitus, it is a chronic condition.
Of those with chronic tinnitus, a large portion considers it to be a nuisance that can usually be ignored. But for others, it can significantly affect their quality of life.
Tinnitus can be caused by other factors
What veterans need to know about hearing loss and tinnitus is that although noise exposure is the most common cause of tinnitus in veterans, it can also be triggered by other underlying medical conditions.
Some of these factors include:
- Certain medications
- Head or neck trauma
- Middle ear disease
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic disorders, such as hyperthyroidism
As you can see, tinnitus can be a sign of other serious conditions, and its onset should not be taken lightly.
Testing for tinnitus
What veterans need to know about hearing loss and tinnitus is that they are common, but there are no objective tests to diagnose the problems.
In 2013, NCRAR ( National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research) researchers and researchers from Oregon Health and Science University conducted three phases of testing to try to distinguish Veterans with tinnitus from those who do not have it. 
They found some differences between the groups, but also that no single test or series of tests could reliably diagnose the condition.
The team concluded additional work is needed to develop a specific battery of tests for detecting the presence or absence of tinnitus with a high degree of confidence.
Tinnitus and mental health conditions
In 2016, a researcher at the Mountain Home (Tenn.) VA (Veterans Affairs) Medical Center and another with East Tennessee State University studied 199 Veterans with tinnitus.
Some of the Veterans in the study had tinnitus only, some had tinnitus and a mental health condition other than posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others had tinnitus and PTSD.
The two researchers found that the group with tinnitus and PTSD were less confident in their abilities to successfully manage their tinnitus than either of the other two groups. 
They also found that the group with tinnitus and PTSD was most affected by the symptoms of their tinnitus, followed by the group with tinnitus and another mental health condition. The group with tinnitus only was least affected by their condition.
Patients with either or both conditions suffered from more severe tinnitus symptoms than patients without either condition.
Blast injuries in veterans
As the ear is the organ most sensitive to blast overpressure, the most frequent injuries seen after blast exposure are those affecting the ear.
Blast overpressure affecting the ear results in sensorineural hearing loss, which is untreatable and often associated with a decline in the quality of life.
The tympanic membrane is particularly sensitive to blast pressure waves since such waves exert forces mainly at the air–tissue interfaces within the body. 
The treatment of tympanic membrane perforation caused by blast exposure is more difficult than that caused by other etiologies.
Sensorineural hearing dysfunction after blast exposure is caused mainly by stereociliary bundle disruption on the outer hair cells.
“Reduction in the numbers of synaptic ribbons in the inner hair cells and spiral ganglion cells is associated with hidden hearing loss, which is strongly associated with tinnitus or hyperacusis.”
Many Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to blasts during their service. VA (Veteran Affairs) researchers are learning about the varied effects of exposures to blasts on the brain. 
Among these effects are hearing loss, which can occur in Veterans even when there is no obvious injury. A blast can compromise not only the ear itself but also the connection between the ear and the brain.
Traumatic brain injury and sensory problems – Sensory problems are common among Veterans who have had a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In 2012, VA (Veteran Affairs) researchers reported on a previous study of 21,000 Veterans evaluated for TBI in VA (Veteran Affairs) outpatient clinics.
They found that 9.9 percent of them reported vision problems, 31.3 percent reported hearing impairments, and 34.6 percent reported both vision and hearing issues.