Tinnitus is a significant concern within the military community and for many veterans. In fact, tinnitus it the #1 service connection (disability compensation) for the Department of Veterans Administration, with over 2.5 million veterans receiving tinnitus disability compensation annually. Veterans of the United States Uniformed Services may be eligible for a broad range of programs and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including tinnitus. Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service. Understanding the causes of tinnitus in the military and how to manage it are keys to helping many military personnel live more fulfilling lives after their years of service.
If you’re unsure about your service connection eligibility, visit www.va.gov to find out more.
1. Prevalence and Impact: Tinnitus is alarmingly common among military personnel due to exposure to high-intensity noise during training and combat operations. In addition, it is commonly associated with hearing-related disabilities.
2. Causes: Military-related tinnitus primarily results from exposure to loud noises, such as gunfire, explosions, machinery, aircraft, and heavy equipment. These intense noise exposures can cause inner ear damage, leading to tinnitus.
3. Consequences: Tinnitus can have profound consequences on military personnel. It may lead to decreased combat readiness, reduced job performance, sleep disturbances, and increased risk of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
4. Diagnosis and Assessment: Tinnitus diagnosis involves a thorough audiological evaluation, including hearing tests and assessment of tinnitus characteristics. This can be done by a VA audiologist. Identifying the underlying causes and determining its impact on daily life are crucial steps in managing tinnitus.
Managing tinnitus for military personnel is not very different than managing it in the civilian world and can involve several approaches, including:
Hearing Protection: Preventing noise-induced hearing loss is essential. Military personnel should use hearing protection when appropriate, and follow any protocols in place.
Counseling and Education: Gathering information and support for your tinnitus can help you better understand your tinnitus and allow you to cope better with the condition.
Sound Therapy: Using background and soothing sounds to help redirect your focus and distract you from the tinnitus noise.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Addressing the psychological aspects of tinnitus, such as anxiety, distress and any negative thoughts you may be carrying.
Medications: In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage tinnitus symptoms and any other underlying conditions that might be present. Consult with your hearing healthcare professional before taking any medication for tinnitus.
Mindfulness: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness can help reduce the stress response and your negative reactions to tinnitus.
MindEar offers a range of scientifically-backed solutions that can help you manage your tinnitus symptoms effectively. In the MindEar app you will find a soundscape library offering a variety of adjustable soundscapes to help you find the sound sound therapy that works best for you. You can also talk to a tinnitus expert to help determine if a sound masker is right for you. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques are also accessible to provide you with the tools to take control of your condition so that you can live a life without noticing it. MindEar is here to guide you on that journey.
Tinnitus is a significant concern in the military, affecting a substantial number of personnel due to noise exposure during training and combat. These effects can carry over long after military service is completed. Effective prevention, diagnosis, and management strategies are essential to mitigate its impact on military readiness and the overall well-being of service members and veterans. Using comprehensive care platforms, such as MindEar can provide you with the resources, tools and skills needed to find relief from your tinnitus whatever your military status may be.