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US troops losing hearing

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by funnybone, Mar 7, 2008.

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  1. funnybone

    funnybone Member

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    :cuss:

    AP IMPACT: US troops losing hearing By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press Writer
    29 minutes ago



    Soldiers and Marines caught in roadside bombings and firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home in epidemic numbers with permanent hearing loss and ringing in their ears, prompting the military to redouble its efforts to protect the troops from noise.

    Hearing damage is the No. 1 disability in the war on terror, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some experts say the true toll could take decades to become clear. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served in the two war zones are collecting disability for tinnitus, a potentially debilitating ringing in the ears, and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss, the VA said.

    "The numbers are staggering," said Theresa Schulz, a former audiologist with the Air Force, past president of the National Hearing Conservation Association and author of a 2004 report titled "Troops Return With Alarming Rates of Hearing Loss."

    One major explanation given is the insurgency's use of a fearsome weapon the Pentagon did not fully anticipate: powerful roadside bombs. Their blasts cause violent changes in air pressure that can rupture the eardrum and break bones inside the ear.

    Also, much of the fighting consists of ambushes, bombings and firefights, which come suddenly and unexpectedly, giving soldiers no time to use their military-issued hearing protection.

    "They can't say, `Wait a minute, let me put my earplugs in,'" said Dr. Michael E. Hoffer, a Navy captain and one of the country's leading inner-ear specialists. "They are in the fight of their lives."

    In addition, some servicemen on patrol refuse to wear earplugs for fear of dulling their senses and missing sounds that can make the difference between life and death, Hoffer and others said. Others were not given earplugs or did not take them along when they were sent into the war zone. And some Marines weren't told how to use their specialized earplugs and inserted them incorrectly.

    Hearing damage has been a battlefield risk ever since the introduction of explosives and artillery, and the U.S. military recognized it in Iraq and Afghanistan and issued earplugs early on. But the sheer number of injuries and their nature — particularly the high incidence of tinnitus — came as a surprise to military medical specialists and outside experts.

    The military has responded over the past three years with better and easier-to-use earplugs, greater efforts to educate troops about protecting their hearing, and more testing in the war zone to detect ear injuries.

    The results aren't in yet on the new measures, but Army officials believe they will significantly slow the rate of new cases of hearing damage, said Col. Kathy Gates, the Army surgeon general's audiology adviser.

    Considerable damage has already been done.

    For former Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 27, of Austin, Texas, the noise of war is still with him more than four years after the simultaneous explosion of three roadside bombs near Baghdad.

    "It's funny, you know. When it happened, I didn't feel my leg gone. What I remember was my ears ringing," said Kelly, whose leg was blown off below the knee in 2003. Today, his leg has been replaced with a prosthetic, but his ears are still ringing.

    "It is constantly there," he said. "It constantly reminds me of getting hit. I don't want to sit here and think about getting blown up all the time. But that's what it does."

    Sixty percent of U.S. personnel exposed to blasts suffer from permanent hearing loss, and 49 percent also suffer from tinnitus, according to military audiology reports. The hearing damage ranges from mild, such as an inability to hear whispers or low pitches, to severe, including total deafness or a constant loud ringing that destroys the ability to concentrate. There is no known cure for tinnitus or hearing loss.

    The number of servicemen and servicewomen on disability because of hearing damage is expected to grow 18 percent a year, with payments totaling $1.1 billion annually by 2011, according to an analysis of VA data by the American Tinnitus Association. Anyone with at least a 10 percent loss in hearing qualifies for disability.

    From World War II and well through Vietnam, hearing damage has been a leading disability.

    Despite everything that has been learned over the years, U.S. troops are suffering hearing damage at about the same rate as World War II vets, according to VA figures. But World War II and Iraq cannot easily be compared. World War II was a different kind of war, waged to a far greater extent by way of vast artillery barrages, bombing raids and epic tank battles.

    Given today's fearsome weaponry, even the best hearing protection is only partly effective — and only if it's properly used.

    Some Marines were issued a $7.40 pair of double-sided earplugs, with one side designed to protect from weapons fire and explosions, the other from aircraft and tank noise. But the Marines were not given instructions in how to use the earplugs, and some cut them in half, while others used the wrong sides, making the devices virtually useless, Hoffer said. Today, instructions are handed out with the earplugs.

    In any case, hearing protection has its limits. While damage can occur at 80 to 85 decibels — the noise level of a moving tank — the best protection cuts that by only 20 to 25 decibels. That is not enough to protect the ears against an explosion or a firefight, which can range upwards of 183 decibels, said Dr. Ben Balough, a Navy captain and chairman of otolaryngology at the Balboa Navy Medical Center in San Diego.

    The Navy and Marines have begun buying and distributing state-of-the-art earplugs, known as QuietPro, that contain digital processors that block out damaging sound waves from gunshots and explosions and still allow users to hear everyday noises. They cost about $600 a pair.

    The Army also has equipped every soldier being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan with newly developed one-sided earplugs that cost about $8.50, and it has begun testing QuietPro with some troops.

    In addition, the Navy is working with San Diego-based American BioHealth Group to develop a "hearing pill" that could protect troops' ears. An early study in 2003 on 566 recruits showed a 25 to 27 percent reduction in permanent hearing loss. But further testing is planned.

    And for the first time in American warfare, for the past three years, hearing specialists or hearing-trained medics have been put on the front lines instead of just at field hospitals, Hoffer said.

    Marines and soldiers are getting hearing tests before going on patrol and when they return to base if they were exposed to bombs or gunfire.

    "You have guys that don't want to admit they have a problem," Hoffer said. "But if they can't hear what they need to on patrol, they could jeopardize their lives, their buddies' lives and, ultimately, their mission."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080307...earing_loss;_ylt=AiBfRtj8ocskN8ismd3H_g.s0NUE
     
  2. mekender

    mekender Member

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    well at least they are recognizing that it is a problem... and it sounds like they are doing something about it

    i remember reading a while back that the number one injury in iraq is flash burns to the finger(s)... apparently the troops are either using fingerless gloves, or are cutting the tips of the gloves off so that they have a better tactile feel on their weapons... the downside to this is that when they are near a grenade, IED, mortar, air strike or car bomb explosion, super heated gases cause severe burns to their fingers... and obviously a soldier without functional fingers is fairly useless in combat... so they sent out repeated directives to the COs to make sure that the troops stopped cutting off the fingers of their gloves...
     
  3. Tyris

    Tyris member

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    Perhaps issuing silencers would be cheaper than paying for long term disability.

    -T
     
  4. funnybone

    funnybone Member

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    I wish I had some of those ear muffs when I spent 20 years working in machine shops.
    And then driving trucks for another 20+ years. Now I ware two hearing aids, and have ringing in the ears 24/7. So I know what their going through. I`am
    glad they are at least trying to do somthing.
    __________________
     
  5. CountGlockula

    CountGlockula Member

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    The worse effects of defective hearing are the headaches and migrains.
     
  6. Grandpa Shooter

    Grandpa Shooter Member

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    They knew more than forty yers ago what damage we were suffering from close explosions and gun fire. A great many of us had damage dating back to 1965 and beyond. Big difference is that the new soldiers are being coached to speak up about what they suffer so they don't just "live with it" like so many of us have before.

    The end cost of this military action will be worse than the Social Security or welfare crisis ever was thought to be. With the incidence of severe brain trauma, PTSD, and other disabilites like hearing loss, the cost to the taxpayer will be out of this world.

    Just my opinion.
     
  7. Tyris

    Tyris member

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    Interesting point.

    Probably not the right forum for this, but we've had the stock market bubble, the housing bubble, next up: the entitlement bubble. It is inevitable. Our little ponzi scheme has almost run its course.

    -T
     
  8. Mk VII

    Mk VII Member

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    Not unless you give the other side silencers as well
     
  9. Tyris

    Tyris member

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    I take it you believe that a gun's muzzle is equally loud when fired 2 feet from your face as when fired by someone else 50 yards away?

    Silencers have direct benefit regardless of the other side's equipment.

    -T
     
  10. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

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    Even if the enemy doesn't have suppressors, that's still half as many loud weapons in an engagement as before. Of course there is still the crew served weapons and 249s that cannot be suppressed. Don't suppressors need to be taken care of more too?
     
  11. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I'm sure this isn't a new phenomenon. Military men exposed to battles with loud explosions and such have probably had to deal with this before.
    My father spent some time on destroyers during the Korean War. He was in a UDT team, but they had to operate off of something. He said the 3" guns were particularly bad on the ears, and felt he'd lost some hearing as a result later in life.
    It wasn't pronounced but if you tried to talk to him from another room it would annoy him because it was hard for him to hear what was being said.
     
  12. marksman13

    marksman13 Member

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    I know that I've lost much of my hearing. It's frustrating, but it has made me much more aware of ear protection when shooting my personal firearms. If it is bigger than a 22LR, I've got plugs in.
     
  13. Winchester 73

    Winchester 73 member

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    I can sympathize about this situation.
    Being a Army Medic in a tank outfit, I had to pull duty while M60's were firing away downrange and 50 calibers blazing.Also range coverage while my Battalion was qualifying for record every 6 months with the M14/M16.
    The hearing protection in the '60's was woefully inadequate.As a result my hearing is terribly degraded.
    And what I experienced is nothing compared to what the guys in Iraq and the Afghan are going through with roadside bombs,IED's,etc.
     
  14. sacp81170a

    sacp81170a Member

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    Huh? What? I'm only half joking. 10 years around military equipment, aircraft, explosions and small arms fire have left me with a constant ringing and a high frequency hearing loss. I guard my hearing religiously now, but you can't wear earmuffs or plugs in a combat situation.
     
  15. Grizzly Adams

    Grizzly Adams Member

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    At least now they are admitting that the personnel in combat situations need hearing protection. It was unheard of in prior wars.

    The only ones that I'm aware of that had hearing protection in the Vietnam War were the ones that worked on flightlines, A/C Carriers, larger field guns and such. If the basic grunt complained about a hearing problem he was accused of malingering.
     
  16. Bart Noir

    Bart Noir Member

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    Wasn't the Navy mentioned?

    I've worked with 2 guys who had topside battle stations near the main guns on cruisers. While they were shelling North Korean troops.

    The blast from those big guns would remove their helmets and sometimes pieces of clothing. Yeah, they didn't hear all that well when they were in their '50s and older.

    Bart Noir
     
  17. Intune

    Intune Member

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    Surely we can afford "electronic" hearing enhancers/protection for our troops. Or, maybe not... Sorry, I came from the Army during Carter & then Reagan came in. We went from OD green to camo, C-Rats to MRE's & M60A3's to M1's. Ahhh...

    I'm talkin' about the plugs that enhance sound but then limit @ a certain DB. It's gotta be a $$$ issue.
     
  18. walking arsenal

    walking arsenal Member

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    I think the troops need to quite their whining.

    And stick earplugs in their heads. Those little orange ones are what? 10 cents a pop? If that.

    Joining the military expecting not to get hurt is like jumping in a pool and expecting to not get wet.

    It's an unreasonable expectation.

    The government is hard on their equipment because it doesn't belong to them. It's free to them, paid for by the tax payers.

    A soldier is just another tool in the military arsenal.

    You sign the papers to be a tool for uncle Sam expect to get used hard and thrown out when your no good.

    Don't like it? Don't sign up. Draftees are a different matter of course.

    Thats the way it works for any other job that isn't unionized.
     
  19. One of Many

    One of Many Member

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    I just looked up QuietPro. Interesting! It seems that someone has decided to use active noise canceling technology to protect individual hearing from loss in high noise environments.

    Active noise cancellation involves detecting the noise frequencies, and generating countering noise at the same amplitude and frequency, but 180 degrees out of phase; this results in the noise at that frequency canceling out (like adding 5 and negative 5 results in zero). It takes a powerful signal processing unit to do the required real time sound detection and sound synthesis that is required to make this work. These units will not be inexpensive, but no matter what they cost, it will be much less than the disability payments that would otherwise be paid for the remaining lifetime of those who suffer hearing loss.
     
  20. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

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    Who said these guys expected not to get hurt? Just because the chance is there doesn't mean that we shouldn't do what we can to help.

    Silly me, I thought we were men and women who understood a call and answered. I guess we aren't fathers, sons, mothers, brothers or sisters... just tools. Thanks.

    I guess I'll get back to being a tool, since that's all I'm good for.
     
  21. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    I did not get that out of what was posted by the OP. I have severe hearing loss over time because of several factors, exposure to loud noise and continuous noise.
    The number coming home with bad hearing will be sad, but it makes for another company to come up with a product that will help on both ends of the problem I would think.

    I use a hearing aid everyday, I have the noise in my ears all the time 24/7 I live with it and others do also, not a fun thing...But as others have mentioned, thats life. In the civil war it was loss of hearing and limbs for the returning soldier...Some have no respect for it (loss of hearing) others do :banghead: It is a problem for me everyday I deal with it the best I can and am thankful for the hearing aids.

    HQ
     
  22. plexreticle

    plexreticle Member

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    Soldiers losing hearing has been going on since the invention of gunpowder.
     
  23. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    I replied to this on another forum and will make the exact same post here.

    I do wonder about people who beat the drum on several sites though.......

    "It's a very hard thing to combat.

    The new plugs are very good and no one wearing them has suffered an eardrum rupture even if they were hit by an IED.

    However, it's very hard to wear hearing protection all the time. The military has really made some good steps forward but we're behind in education and enforcing the standard.

    I'm very aware of the risk and am very good about wearing hearing protection. However, I would be wrong to say that I wear it all the time. Unlike eye protection you give something up when you're wearing it."
     
  24. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Who said that they were whining? Did you even read the article?

    I guess that you were "too smart" to become "a tool for uncle Sam". Some of us were proud to serve, even when it cost us dearly in injury, deprivation, and discomfort.
     
  25. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    I'm a bit angry now.

    Many of you didn't read the research presented.

    For those that think the Soldiers are whining I would ask you to take the time to visit the nearest MEDCEN and spend some time with the amputies or burn patients. I was at Ft. Sam Houston recently and it was very hard to deal with for me, these are young kids have paid a very high price.

    For those of you that want to compare our military service to a union job. I think you are missing a lot. We will not go on strike when things are not to our liking or we don't care for the work................ Do you really think the world would be a better place if the Army could strike when it didn't feel like fighting? The "old country" has that and we see how well that's working for them.
     
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