At Clear Choice Hearing and Balance, many of our patients are military veterans. Given the huge scope of our combined forces, some of these people had military occupations that put them in frequent hazardous noise. Some did not. Some saw heavy combat. Others served during peacetime. Some were issued hearing protection. Others did not. Some had long military careers. Others did not. The fact that most personnel had hearing exams at the time of entrance and separation from the service makes veterans a convenient group for study.

Here are some informal observations, having interviewed and tested the hearing of thousands of veterans over the years. Veterans whose military occupations were highly probable for hazardous noise were more likely to show changes in hearing before separation and more likely to complain of tinnitus. Veterans with access to hearing protection were less likely to show these signs. There may also be differences between the right ear and the left, depending on which hand the veteran used to pull a rifle trigger. Veterans in their twenties may have hearing loss if they were sufficiently exposed to loud noise. Young veterans may complain of tinnitus even if their hearing is still normal.

While aging will continue to take a toll on a person’s hearing following military service, many veterans only were exposed to loud sounds while they were in the service. The effects are permanent and typically progressive. They say “Freedom is not free.” Our veterans made many sacrifices in the service. One is their hearing and communication with others.

In summary, veterans teach us that loud noise damages hearing. Noise can cause tinnitus. Ear plugs or other hearing protection work. Longer exposure to noise can be more damaging than brief exposure. Noise damage can affect any age patient. Some patients are more at risk for hearing damage than others, based on activities and occupations. We thank all our veterans for their service, as well as the many things they can teach us.

If you or a loved one has a concern about their hearing, we are happy to help. We can be reached by calling 585-723-3440 or by emailing us through our secure contact page. As always, we wish to keep you on a clear path to good hearing and ear health.