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
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.