How Veterans Learn To Live With Hearing Loss - Ali Puttnam

Date: Friday August 30, 2019 at 8:38am

How Veterans Learn To Live With Hearing Loss

Around 11 million people in the UK are living with hearing loss, while 300,000 of these are military veterans. Hearing loss and tinnitus can cut short military careers. That’s what happened to one former Royal Marine who earlier this year was awarded over £500,000 in damages for the noise-induced hearing loss he suffered during his 15-year military service. Experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus can be a devastating and even life-changing experience. But there is help out there to support veterans and help them adapt to and enjoy civilian despite their hearing problems.

Auditory Processing Disorder

Every day thousands of veterans are living with reduced hearing, complete hearing loss or tortured by noises that no one else can hear. Many veterans experience auditory processing disorder (APD), which comes from the brain rather than the ear. Loud blasts from explosions during active service can disrupt the brain’s ability to process sound which causes deafness and tinnitus. Tinnitus, known as ringing in the ears, affects around six million people in the UK. It can vary from high pitched ringing to beeps or a chirping sound that only the individual can hear. For some people, it might be something that's just occasionally annoying. But for others, it can have a big impact on relationships, sleeping and being able to concentrate at work.

Visit A Hearing Care Specialist

If you think you have a hearing loss, it’s important that you visit a local hearing care specialist or audiologist as soon as possible. Hearing tests are quick and painless and you can often get the results immediately. Even if you think your hearing isn’t affected, as a military veteran, it’s a good idea to be tested, especially as hearing loss is a common cause of tinnitus. Your hearing evaluation will enable you to have a clear idea of whether you have any hearing loss. If you do, then the hearing care specialist or audiologist will be able to talk you through whether a hearing aid will be able to help you.



Practical Support For UK Veterans

The Royal British Legion’s Veterans Hearing Fund offers practical support to UK veterans experiencing hearing loss. The fund provides veterans with grants that cover state of the art hearing aids, pioneering treatments and lip-reading courses. The fund is open to ex-servicemen and women whose wellbeing needs cannot be met through the NHS. If you need a hearing aid, then there are type types available. Your type of hearing loss, your lifestyle and personal preferences will likely influence which hearing aid is right for you. Hearing aids can restore the frequency range that you have lost. But they’ve also been found to help people with tinnitus to cope better with the condition.

Hearing Loss Service Dogs 

If you are a military veteran living with hearing loss, a hearing can provide you with much more than canine companionship. These dogs have been specially trained to alert their veteran owners to sounds around the home and potential hazards. The dog will nudge you or paw at you to get your attention and then lead you to the source of the noise. Your dog will hear for, acting as your ears to keep you safe and aware of what's happening around. There are several hearing dog schemes across the UK, while the charity, Hearing Dogs, has provided over 900 hearing dogs to people in the UK. Hearing dogs are generally provided for free, but hearing dogs are often in very high demand, so you may have to wait a while before you become eligible to get a hearing dog. But as soon as you get your hearing dog home, you will see it's been worth the wait.

Developing hearing loss or tinnitus doesn't just cut short a long and dedicated military career. It can have lost-lasting and life-changing consequences for veterans looking to start their life after the military. But thanks to organisations like the Royal British Legion, there is support available to help veterans get the treatment and support they need to live and cope with their hearing loss.


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