Many veterans of war now live at home with hearing loss and other auditory complications such as tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
Despite being such a prevalent condition, hearing loss doesn’t receive much attention, because “hearing loss is not visible or painful and very few people die because of it,” says Michael Wong, Principal Audiologist at Alpha Hearing in Melbourne.
Too few war veterans, like most people, don’t seek medical attention for their hearing loss when they first notice it. They just live with it.
“We know that it usually takes seven years between the time someone notes a problem with their hearing and the time they actually seek medical attention for it,” according to Mr Wong.
Hearing loss amongst our war veterans is a big problem. We must deal with it. If left untreated, hearing loss will affect quality of life and functional capacity to conduct tasks of everyday living. This means there is a very real need to educate the public about the reality of hearing loss and its psychological and social implications,” says Mr Wong.
Prolonged exposure to excessive noise damages hearing. Specifically, loud noise destroys the ear’s sensory cells, called ‘hair cells’. Your ears cannot grow new hair cells. As the hair cells die, hearing loss develops which greatly impacts your ability to communicate effectively. Even marginal hearing loss negatively affects your sense of independence and wellbeing.
The good news. Hearing loss is highly treatable. Individuals should seek professional advice at the earliest signs of change. With the right guidance and clear recommendations, most people are able to significantly improve their hearing and communication ability.
If you are a veteran with a DVA Gold Card or DVA White (hearing specific) Card, you may be eligible to access a range of free hearing services including hearing health check, digital hearing aids and devices to help you around the home like wireless headphones to hear your TV and portable doorbells with flashing lights to tell you when you have a visitor.
If you’re concerned about your hearing, see an audiologist and ask about hearing services for veterans.
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