Hearing loss and tinnitus in military personnel


The Washington Post recently published a piece on the dangers military personnel face in terms of hearing loss and tinnitus, and looked at changing perspectives.

The story covers the experience of a soldier, Stephen Carlson, who served two tours in Afghanistan. He suffered severe damage to his eardrums when a bomb went off not far from him. Surgery and hearing aids have helped but the article highlights the toll hearing loss and tinnitus take on service personnel.

Many war injuries are severe and immediate with significant health repercussions. Some are however more insidious and can have long-lasting impacts in multiple spheres of life. Although hearing damage in military personnel is often minor, a large proportion of service people have some level of hearing impairment after serving. The article highlights that the US Veterans Affairs Department pays out more than 1 billion US dollars a year on disability payments for severe hearing loss. The problem will also become more acute as service men and women age.

But, according to the author, hearing loss does not have to be considered an inevitable part of military action that should be considered minor in comparison to more severe injury outcomes. It needs to be addressed because it can change the whole way the affected person operates in their environment. Carlson concludes that more research needs to be carried out to find solutions to this type of hearing damage since, in the long run, “this would be better for soldiers and cheaper for the government.”

Source: The Washington Post