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The United States Air Force Battles Against Hearing Loss

by April Maguire

We all know that soldiers put their well being on the line in order to protect our country. As a result, soldiers often return from overseas with a wide range of physical and mental challenges the likes of which the rest of us typically don't have to face. Because of these risks, the United States Air Force has put a new program in place called the Total Exposure Health Initiative, which is geared towards preventing health care issues before they become full-blown problems.

As part of this program, the Air Force is putting a plan in motion to battle hearing loss among its members. While hearing loss may seem benign compared to some of the dangers that military personnel face, it's actually an incredibly common problem. In fact, it is the most common health concern that returning soldiers report, with nearly a million veterans receiving benefits for hearing loss each year. When tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is factored in, that number leaps to more than 1.3 million people.

The Study

In order to determine the extent of the problem as well as the best path forward, the Air Force is conducting a new study. Drawing from a pool of active personnel, researchers will monitor all of the noise that the soldiers are exposed to over the course of 24 hours. Even though some jobs or tasks don't pose much risk in terms of harmful noise levels, all sound pollution adds up throughout the day. So even relatively quiet activities can add to overall noise exposure, making hearing loss and tinnitus worse. Plus, the study won't be limited to work activities only. By monitoring the participants for a full day, the researchers can learn if off-duty activities, such as listening to loud music on personal listening devices, could be contributing to hearing problems. After two weeks, the results for the participants are examined, and the researchers will determine viable preventative measures that he Air Force should implement.

In general, these measures will likely include providing hearing protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs, to military personnel during activities that expose them to dangerous noise levels. Additionally, Air Force members should be educated about the hazards of noise pollution and given techniques to avoid it.

While this study is limited to active duty Air Force members, the results derived from it can be applicable to everyone. Each day, all of us run the risk of being exposed to noise levels that could cause permanent hearing loss. But by being aware of your environment and taking the proper precautions, you can preserve your hearing for years to come.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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