Veterans' biggest health concern involves hearing damage
Hearing Health Foundation, the leading non-profit funder of hearing research, remains committed to the Americans serving in the U.S. armed forces who return home suffering from tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and hearing loss. At least 60 percent of soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan report hearing problems due to noise exposure experienced during their time of service; surprisingly, hearing loss and tinnitus are more common than post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hearing loss and tinnitus aren’t new to the military, found San Diego writer and editor Elizabeth Stump, whose research contributed to the content of this article. John Ayers, 79, of Texas was informed at the age of 25 that he had suffered from hearing loss due to his time in the U.S. Air Force preparing B-47 jet bombers to fly combat missions.
“Earplugs were required only for those who worked on the flight line and next to the aircraft,” he says. “Flying at 10,000 feet, the engine roar permeated every part of my body. The droning of the engines made the entire airplane frame vibrate, making it difficult to sleep; hearing other people talk was impossible. It was several days before my hearing returned to normal.”
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