Veterans with hearing loss

The effect of your deployment on your hearing 

While on active duty, you may have been exposed to repeated loud noises that exceeded certain thresholds recommended by experts. Wearing hearing protection on the battle field is not always an option. Noise-induced hearing loss happens when excessive noise damages some of the hearing mechanisms in the inner ear. When noise exceeds a certain level, it begins to destroy the nerve endings in the inner ear. If this happens repeatedly, the nerve endings become damaged beyond repair, depriving you of your hearing. 

Before your deployment, you may not have noticed any hearing difficulties. After your return, a hearing evaluation can determine if you have any hearing loss, or provide you with a baseline of your hearing abilities now that you have returned from active duty. 

Many of today’s returning active duty service men and women and recent veterans are coping with hearing loss. If you are one of them, you are not alone. Those who have suffered the physical trauma of IED blasts or have been diagnosed with TBI are finding that their hearing has also suffered. It is one of the ‘invisible’ injuries that may not be immediately diagnosed.


My hearing is just not the same 

In some situations, your hearing evaluation will indicate that your hearing is within ‘normal’ limits. For most of us, there are some frequencies at a particular volume level that we just don’t hear. However, if you feel that you are still having a difficult time hearing, speak with your audiologist. Your hearing may be in the ‘normal’ range, but you may have left for your deployment with no hearing loss. Although you are within ‘normal limits,’ to you, you are experiencing a hearing loss. 

Explain when and where you are having difficulties hearing or understanding. Your audiologist can best determine how to provide you with the help you need. You may be struggling with the clarity of speech vs. loudness, which may be helped with today’s hearing instruments. 

After your hearing evaluation, your audiologist may explain that there are frequencies that you do not hear very well and recommend amplification. You will most likely know this from your own experiences, struggling to understand certain words, or knowing that you are having difficulty making out what people are saying in certain situations. It can be a relief to have this confirmed by your hearing care professional.


Modern hearing technology 

The encouraging thing to know is that today’s hearing instruments may be able to help. They are small, discreet and with the right accessories, can turn into wireless headphones, connected to your cell phone. You can even have the sound from your TV streamed directly to your hearing instruments. No more fighting over the volume of the TV! 

Modern hearing instruments use the latest breakthroughs in microprocessor design, audio signal processing technology, and materials science - not just to raise the volume of what you hear, but to sharpen the focus of what you hear. So you’re better able to hone in on a conversation in a wall of party noise, and shift attention from one voice to another as you choose. A modern hearing instrument can, for example, make it easier to understand and respond to the soft, high-pitched voice of a child or an elderly person because its own micro-brain works with your brain to recognize natural speech cues and keep competing noise from distracting you. 

A modern hearing instrument is programmed to match your hearing profile and help you hear more naturally, even in difficult hearing situations.


Don’t put off getting help 

People who believe they have only slightly impaired hearing often make the mistake of thinking that they don’t have as much to gain from a hearing instrument. Anxiety over the idea of being dependent on a hearing device can play a role as well. It’s a shame, because this frame of mind causes people to waste years of their lives coping and adapting, slipping gradually into a world of isolation. Eventually, they neither remember nor realize the fuller life they’re missing. 

There’s only one way to deal with the issue of hearing difficulties – head on as you have been trained. Ask yourself, do you want to be the person sitting home alone with the TV on full blast, or the person sitting in a restaurant with friends gathered around, fully engaged in the heart of the conversation? Today’s tiny, discreet hearing instruments can make the difference. 

See your hearing care professional, get a hearing check, and if appropriate, get fit with one of the new, modern hearing instruments. The only way to understand if they will help you in your situation is to try these state-of-the art hearing instruments in your own home and your own daily life.

  • Get support

    Learn how to clean your hearing aid, change your batteries, replace domes and more

  • Check your hearing

    Think that you may have hearing loss?  Take the first step and complete this short evaluation

  • Ringing in your ears?

    What is tinnitus, why do some people get it, and what can be done to relieve symptoms?

  • Find a VA Center

    For further information on hearing instrument eligibility or to make an appointment contact the VA facility nearest you