Hearing loss is the number one service related issue among Veterans. Dr. Christi Moore has been practicing audiology for over two decades and was inspired to enter the field after growing up with family members who suffered from hearing loss. Veterans make up about ten to fifteen percent of her patient base.
Dr. Moore provides us a basic primer on the biology of hearing loss and how continued exposure to noises in excess of 90 decibels can cause hair cells to weaken. While repeated exposure to gunfire, explosions and loud engines is an obvious exposure risk for members of our military and first responders, she explains that there are devices in civilian’s daily lives that can also contribute; power tools, the increased use of headsets/ear buds for music and even a shop vacuum cleaner.
I grew up regularly using firearms and chain saws and now suffer from Tinnitus. Damaged hair cells can sometimes get confused and create a “phantom sound” that the brain interprets as a noise. Other health conditions like cardiovascular issues, medications or infections can also cause Tinnitus. While there is no cure for Tinnitus, there are therapies that can reduced the intensity of the affliction.
We discuss the issue of denial and how hearing aids are no longer perceived in our society as simply a sign of “old age”. Dr. Moore encourages Veterans to explore treatment options and funding through the VA health system.
Dr. Moore emphasizes protective measures and highly recommends properly rated “shuttering earmuffs” for persons who enjoy shooting or are regularly exposed to loud noises.
TAKEAWAY: “It’s never easy to admit that something isn’t working right in your body system. Even if you don’t think your hearing problem is bad right now, don’t wait until it gets bad before you do something about it.”