Thursday, February 23, 2006
Post-Deployment Hearing Loss
As with many people who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, I had significant hearing loss in my left ear due to a rocket attack. Other than making sure it was properly diagnosed and documented in my medical records, I've never talked about it or asked for treatment for the simple reason that it was just an 80mm rocket. There are thousands of Army and Marine Corps soldiers who have had much worse damage due to IED detonations and close-quarter combat situations. I just assumed I'd let those guys who use our medical facility get the help they needed before I brought it up again with the Docs.
Today I came across the first article I've seen dealing with U.S. troops and hearing loss.
I hope that the DoD starts paying more attention to studies like this so they can better prepare for, mitigate, and treat hearing damage in the combat environment. Yes, if you take all of the physical and psychological injuries our soldiers are dealing with, hearing damage is not nearly as important, but it should at least be dealt with at some level.
The new Army study examined the cases of 806 U.S. soldiers diagnosed with "post deployment noise-induced hearing loss" at audiology clinics worldwide between April 2003 and March 2004. By comparing the hearing of those who had served in Iraq with the hearing of those who had not, researchers concluded that soldiers sent to battle zones were 52.5 times more likely to suffer auditory damage.
"These are not just mild hearing losses that you and I might have from listening to music, or from aging," said Brenda Lonsbury-Martin, director of science and research for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. "These are pretty severe hearing losses that will impact your life."
The most common problems were tinnitus and "permanent threshold shift," which means inner ear damage resulting in lifelong hearing loss. About 30 percent of the soldiers studied suffered these conditions.
About 6 percent of the soldiers studied suffered "acoustic trauma," often resulting from a single loud noise, like a bomb blast. Two percent had broken eardrums, which often heal but in the meantime leave soldiers vulnerable to inner ear infections in unsanitary battlefield environments.
Other than my initial diagnosis, I've had zero follow up or treatment... not even a call to see if it has progressed. Air Force Med Centers are supposed to be on the ball and good about treating their personnel. If the Air Force is ignoring the issue, I can't imagine how bad it is at the Army and Marine facilities.
posted by El Capitan at 12:04 PM
What? Did you say something?9:58 PM
I think this is something that the soldiers may not even be thinking about much - when you go out, you don't think about putting in ear plugs, but you should. Especially now that they have those indoor / outdoor plugs (product E15 on this website - http://www.letargets.com/html/protective.html) that work wonders. I have a set of those and they're great. Now if we could only get people to wear them. Consistently.10:55 PM
Never knew those plugs existed. Thanks!
Dear God, have you seen this story?
Please tell me this is a hoax...
I’d have to agree with those who complain about the quality of the medical service provided to the military. I remember a few years back when I was applying to the academies, the medical review board kept loosing my medical files. I had to keep going back to branch medical to repeat the “hurry up and wait” process…what a pain in the ass. The DoD should just outsource medical, that way all you service-people could have access to doctors and staff who actually give a damn.12:55 AM
I absolutely disagree with Zopher.
It's not that the staff doesn't give a damn, it's the amount of people they see. And the fact that these idiots keep changing computer systems.
A few years ago we worked with CHCS which worked great - but didn't allow you to transfer any files digitally between hospitals. They are now going to CHCS II which is supposed to help in networking. The problem is, once ANYthing is entered wrong, it nearly takes an act of congress to fix it. They'll figure it out eventually, I'm sure.
And even though there's much hurry up and wait like anywhere else in the army, I've never found it to be much worse than the waits at civilian hospitals.
All I know is that the VA has great hearing aid services. My Dad can't gush enough about how great they are, course he's going to a VA in St. Cloud, MN. But still the service is set up and works really well.
What I want to know about is those commercials I see on Fox about abestos funding for Vets? What's with that?
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