Veterans are honored around the country every Nov. 11 — and in honor of the nation’s living active, former and retired service members, an audiologist is encouraging both veterans and civilians to keep tabs on their ear health.
“Our veterans and our active duty military personnel have very noisy jobs,” said Kyle Acker, with Starkey Hearing Technologies.
“Explosions and gunfire and things like that pose large risks to the hearing of those that are exposed to them, but everyday noses like jet engines and Humvees and tanks and all the different loud noises that our active duty and veterans experience can have long-term effects on their overall hearing.
“Hearing loss is one of the most common medical needs for our veterans and active duty folks,” Acker said.
Signs of aural decline often surface gradually, and can become evident when spouses, friends or loved ones start asking questions like “why the television was on so loud. The communication effects are enormous,” Acker said.
One reason why folks may not seek help until problems have reached an advanced state is because as issues start to creep closer, “your brain starts to adapt and try to overcome hearing loss as you experience it,” Acker said.
That could be an indication that a doctor’s visit is necessary. Another sign is tinnitus, which is commonly experienced as a ringing in the ears, or also a “buzzing or other type of noise that originates in the head,” according to the Office of Research and Development of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
“Many, many people experience tinnitus. It’s a condition that’s most commonly paired with hearing loss … If someone is experiencing tinnitus, absolutely, they should reach out for evaluation and care of tinnitus,” Acker said.
Similar to other aspects of physical health, the best way to keep track of auditory health is to see an audiologist to establish a hearing baseline, and follow up with annual visits, Acker said.
According to the Veterans Affairs website, the VA created the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research to examine hearing problems in Veterans, to work on treatments and ways to relieve issues that can stem from hearing loss and tinnitus, including social and communication problems as well as economic challenges.
Learn more about Veterans Affairs research here.
Read additional information about hearing loss from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) as well as the Hearing Loss Association of America.