Focus on prevention of hearing loss in military personnel

Awareness

The Marine Corps Times reports on a recent initiative aimed at promoting hearing health among military personnel.

Military professions are one of the career paths known to involve serious risks for hearing. Recently, leaders in hearing conservation from various areas of the US Defense Department met for a focus group on the topic at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable, and we can do better at every level to reduce it,” said hearing conservation program manager Dr. Jolene Mancini, audiologist at Naval Health Clinic Quantico. “Improvements can be made in all areas, but probably the most effective is also the simplest and lowest-tech solution - education.”

The most important points identified were that prolonged exposure to lower-level noise can be just as damaging as one-time exposure to a single very loud sound. Also, hearing health and general health go hand-in-hand. “Noise exposure has been associated with high blood pressure, sleep disturbance, increased stress, and many other non-auditory effects,” Mancini added.

She also said that hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common service-related disabilities reported to Veterans Affairs. She highlighted that continuous exposure to loud equipment, vehicles, or aircraft are major contributors that have cumulative effects over time.

The focus group is looking into new technologies that could help reduce the risk, specifically devices for lower-level noises that involve long-term exposure. Its members will also work with researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to study various weapons systems.

Source: Marine Corps Times

C.S.