As Americans, we don’t often think about the hard work and sacrifices that military veterans have made throughout time to defend and preserve our freedoms.
Even when we do stop to think about it, we usually think about their temporary discomfort due to deprivation of the conveniences of home. We try not to dwell on the issue of permanent loss, but it’s a reality that many veterans must face. The loss could be of their health, a limb, or even their life.
But there is another potential loss that is the second-most common health condition treated at VA hospitals throughout the land: loss of hearing. (The first-most common condition is also auditory-related: tinnitus or ringing in the ears.)
Right now, more than one million military veterans have some form of hearing loss.
Why is Hearing Loss a Problem for Veterans?
For many years, by far, the most common injury to soldiers was a piercing injury, as received by a knife or a bullet.
It’s only relatively recently that soldiers began to be wounded by explosive injury mechanisms in numbers far exceeding that of any other injury: nearly 75% of combat casualties between 2005-2009 were the result of explosive injury mechanisms.
These devices are devastatingly loud, which results in long-term hearing problems.
Additionally, between 2003 and 2015, 3M sold defective combat earplugs to the US military.
These earplugs failed to maintain a proper seal, thereby allowing damage to occur to the ears of their wearers, resulting in tinnitus, hearing loss, and loss of balance. Vets filed hundreds of lawsuits, and 3M paid out millions of dollars in damages.
Thanks in part to this event, the Pentagon has become more proactive in field-testing numerous forms of hearing protection, so the good news is that going forward, soldiers can be more confident that their earplugs will do the job they are there to do.
Sadly, however, auditory damage already done cannot be undone; auditory tissues, unlike many other tissues in the human body, do not regenerate once they’ve been destroyed.
All that can be done is to utilize technology to improve hearing significantly, and subsequently, quality of life for those who have already sustained auditory damage.
Help for Those with Hearing Loss
In my more than two decades as an audiologist, I’ve seen the way people’s lives are impacted by hearing loss. It has made my goal to do everything in my power to help my patients to mitigate that impact by providing them with superior hearing healthcare.
That’s why I founded Jacobs Audiology in 2011, and that’s why I still take continuing education courses to this day: so I stay informed of all the latest developments in patient care and technology.
That translates to being able to formulate a treatment plan that is customized to each and every patient, and that takes advantage of all the exciting new advances made in the field every day.
I have cared for the hearing health of more than 100,000 patients over the last 25 years, and I look forward to caring for many more in the years to come.
Are you concerned about your hearing or that of a loved one? Contact us for a free assessment.