2009 February 08 Sunday
Hearing Loss And Tinnitus In Iraq Vets

A good article by Jerome Groopman in The New Yorker includes a section on hearing loss among US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the hearing loss they experience.

A recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that nearly seventy thousand of the 1.3 million soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are collecting disability for tinnitus, and more than fifty-eight thousand are on disability for hearing loss. In 2006, the V.A. reportedly spent five hundred and thirty-nine million dollars on payments to veterans with tinnitus. A survey of more than a hundred and forty-one thousand Army active-duty, reserve, and Guard members who were examined in audiology clinics from April, 2003, through March, 2004, showed that tinnitus accounted for more than thirty per cent of post-deployment-related diagnoses. The study, from the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, concluded, “There were not adequate supplies of earplugs to fit all deploying soldiers. There was also failure of an Army medical readiness automation system . . . to provide unit commanders with information regarding troops having adequate hearing protection. . . . Finally, there is evidence . . . that soldiers having blast injuries may not have been referred to audiology for adequate evaluation and treatment.”

You gotta figure the number who are collecting disability is a fraction of the total that have suffered hearing losses. Plus, lots more will show hearing loss later in life as a result of their war experiences.

The US military lacks the resources needed to deal with the problem.

In the fall of 2004, in an article for Hearing Health titled “Troops Return with Alarming Rates of Hearing Loss,” Schulz wrote, “Unfortunately, the resources required to accomplish the hearing conservation mission throughout the armed forces are diminishing just as the problem worsens.” Positions for active-duty audiologists, Schulz noted, were quickly being eliminated; since 1990, these positions had dwindled from seventy-three to twenty-five, with six more posts expected to be eliminated in the coming years. Meanwhile, Schulz wrote, “In the Army . . . only forty-six per cent of those soldiers who require an annual hearing evaluation—because they are exposed to hazardous noise as a part of their routine duties—received one last year.”

Most of the article is about tinnitus research and treatment. But the part on the military shows yet another cost of America's wars in the Middle East.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 February 08 07:28 PM  Mideast Iraq Costs


Comments
Jennifer DuPriest said at February 9, 2009 9:17 AM:

If you are a veteran from any period of service, the American Tinnitus Association advocates on behalf of you to find a cure for tinnitus.
To learn more please visit http://www.ata.org/action-alliance/support-for-veterans to learn more about what ATA is doing for you and how you can become involved in the good fight to cure tinnitus.

Ken Nelson said at February 9, 2009 10:02 AM:

Thanks for posting this. I was wondering about that myself recently.

Technology exists to help prevent this. I wear them on the shooting range for hours.
They are comfy, enhance my hearing to super human levels and protect from loud noises.
http://www.kennelson.com/newblog/?p=2735

Jerry Martinson said at February 9, 2009 7:40 PM:

I think it might be useful to make hearing protection combined with super-human audio processing part of the helmet. That way acoustic energy could also be used as part of the battlefield when in fire fights with poorly equipped foes. Same goes for visual protection/enhancement and blinding weapons. Unfortunately, this will still take a toll on civilians.

David Marshall said at May 28, 2010 8:18 AM:

Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus ONLY?

NIH Publication No. 95-3404, July 1998. Updated Nov. 2001.
“Ménière's disease is an abnormality of the inner ear causing a host of symptoms, including vertigo or severe dizziness, tinnitus or a roaring sound in the ears, fluctuating hearing loss, and the sensation of pressure or pain in the affected ear. The disorder usually affects only one ear and is a common cause of hearing loss. Named after French physician Prosper Ménière who first described the syndrome in 1861.” In accordance with a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.), “U” type Audiogram curves are an indicator of Menieres disease.

A MENIERES DISEASE OVERSIGHT?

In this veteran’s case, both the 7/9/57 VA Rating Board’s 10% hearing loss only and the VA 3/22/05, 60% service connected Menieres disease award retroactive to 1999, not 1956, overlooked their known or should have known:

1. A 6/26/57 VA SERVICE MEDICAL RECORD REVIEW AND EXAM FOR THE 7/9/57 VA RATING BOARD’S 10%. THE 6/26/57 VA ATTENDING PHYSICIAN ON 4/3/58 submitted the 7/9/57 Board’s knew or should have known “NO VESTIBULAR FUNCTION” et. al. evidence to the USAF. THIS EVIDENCE RESULTED IN THE 6/25/58 “SURGEON HQ ARRC MEDICALLY DISQUALIFIED FOR MILITARY SERVICE”. THE very same EVIDENCE IS THE BASIS FOR THE SERVICE CONNECTED 3/22/05, 60% MENIERES DISEASE AWARD!! Six (6) months after the “DISQUALIFIED” was the “Recommended for Reenlistment Yes” IN THE USAF 2 JANUARY 1959 “HONORABLE DISCHARGE”!

2. The since 1861 medically known Menieres disease and Audiogram indication symptoms in the veteran’s 5/27/53, 5/28/53, 5/29/53, 6/2/53, 7/22/54, 5/13/55, 7/21/55, 5/21/56, 6/26/57, 4/3/58 USAF and VA plus to date records.

3. The then 1952-1956 violated 1948 Air Force Regulation (AFR) 160-3 “Precautionary Measures Against Noise Hazards” with its overall exposures were never to exceed 95 dBA.

4. The 1953, 121 page BENOX REPORT that set forth the then known certain jet engine noise injuries, e.g., the “vestibular” and noise “effects” are addressed thirty five (35) and one hundred and ten (110) times respectively. Established is injury well beyond a hearing loss only.

5. The 1956, 130 page JET ENGINE, TR54-401 “Acoustic Energy Control” report. 71 of its 99 noise level readings were Department of Defense (DOD) known prior to the 1953 BENOX REPORT. In the veteran’s case it is the USAF Cadet Wing Commander washout Physician’s 1/29/54 recorded UNPROTECTED “...on warm-up crew for F-86D with very high noise levels.” A TR54-401, page 31, 1951 & 1952, F-86D, J47 jet engine noise level from 117 dB to 186 dB. An American Medical Association for each 6 dB increase in noise level, sound pressure (X) doubles for a 13 X to over 16,384 X times worse than the AFR 160-3 never to exceed 95 dBA!

AN EXTREME NOISE LEVEL HEARING LOSS AND TINNITUS ONLY?

TOM said at August 4, 2010 9:27 PM:

I'M GOING THRU THAT NOW. I HAVE TINNITUS AND SEVERE HEARING LOSS. I WAS A PLANE CAPTAIN, JET MECH AND FINALLY ENDED UP ON THE FLIGHT DECK AS A ADJ TROUBLE SHOOTER. EVEN AT HIGH POWER TESTING WE EITHER DIDN'T HAVE MICKEY MOUSE EARS OR THE CUPS ON THE EARS WERE EMPTY. IF YOU WERE LUCKING, YOU'D GET A LITTLE PIECE OF FOAM TO WAD UP AND STICK IT IN.
NOW I'M BEING TOLD BY THE VA JET ROAR CAN'T CAUSE TINNITUS.GOTTA LOVE IT...


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