Having provided hearing care for thousands of patients for over 20 years, we are familiar with the damage done to our veterans’ hearing because of their work environment.

The number one disability of veterans is tinnitus and number two is hearing loss. 80% percent of individuals with a hearing loss have tinnitus, and 80% of individuals with tinnitus have a hearing loss.

Our veterans’ need for high quality hearing protection is obvious, which is why the stories coming forth of 3M’s disregard for quality is so disappointing.

Is Hearing Protection That Important In Noisy Environments?

Noise-induced hearing loss is the most preventable type of hearing loss. If individuals in loud noise would just wear hearing protection, they would not get a hearing loss from the noise.

The noise-induced hearing loss gets added to age-related hearing loss and hereditary hearing loss, causing you to have much more hearing loss than you should.

What Could Happen If You Don’t Adequately Protect Your Hearing?

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the two biggest results of unprotected hearing, and untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, dementia, Alzheimer’s, paranoia, and more falls – even mild hearing loss.

All these effects of untreated hearing loss can be “reversed” by simply wearing hearing aids, according to a San Antonio VA and University of Texas, San Antonio study. But hearing protection can help prevent any hearing loss in the first place.

How Often Do Veterans Seek Help From Audiologists?

Almost all of the veterans I see here in Los Angeles have a hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Many VA studies prove the high number of veterans experiencing loud-noise exposure and subsequent hearing damage. All veterans enrolled in VA healthcare are eligible for diagnostic audiology care and hearing aids – as long as they have the results from a state-licensed audiologist’s hearing test proving their level of hearing loss and tinnitus.

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How 3M’s Combat Earplugs Failed A U.S. Army Veteran

Plaintiffs in all four of the lawsuits brought against 3M so far on this issue have claimed that 3M knowingly sold defective earplugs to the U.S. Army and failed to give adequate direction as to how to use them.

Hearing protection devices (HPDs) only work when worn properly. All individuals in service should be monitored to make sure they are wearing HPDs and using them properly, and they should be checked regularly to make sure they are not getting a hearing loss.

If they are getting a hearing loss, then they need to be reinstructed on how to wear the HPDs properly or fit with different HPDs that work.

Will This Change The Future Of Hearing Protection?

It won’t affect it poorly. If the soldiers had been trained in proper use, monitored to make sure they were wearing them properly, had annual hearing tests to make sure that they were not getting a hearing loss, and the HPDs were working, then none of this would have happened.

The military is responsible to make sure that the soldiers are trained properly, unless 3M was paid to do that. Usually, companies just sell the product and give written and verbal instruction on the three aspects I mentioned above.

A hearing conservation program is needed that lets our servicemen and women know about the negative consequences of hearing loss, so they know why it is important to use HPDs continuously and consistently when exposed to loud sounds.

When Should Anyone Require Hearing Protection?

Anyone who works in a loud-noise environment should be wearing hearing protection.

Construction, roofers, gardeners, policemen, firemen, factory workers, rock musicians, miners, carpenters, lumberjacks, railroad workers, airline workers, farmers, racecar drivers/workers, truck drivers, subway conductors, ambulance drivers, military, metal workers – anywhere loud noise assaults the ears.

Anyone using headphones or ear pods while listening to music, podcasts, etc. should be using the safe volume settings on their device. Hearing loss in young people is on the rise because of having the volume up too high.

But even everyday noises can cause hearing damage – yardwork, hunting, woodworking, older washing machines. If you think it’s a louder sound than normal, wear some protection.

Do You Know, Or Are You, A Veteran With A Hearing Loss?

Here’s what to do if you have hearing damage caused by your years serving our country:

  1. Get a referral from the VA that covers a visit and hearing assessment with us so we can establish your current hearing level and help you qualify for any treatment costs.
  2. Book your hearing assessment.
  3. Protect your hearing by wearing HPDs when in loud-noise environments.
  4. If we find a hearing loss, we’ll prescribe a hearing aid to stimulate the auditory nerve and brain – to prevent atrophy of the nerves and brain and reduce the aforementioned effects of untreated hearing loss.

What’s Needed To Prevent Hearing Damage?

We provide all types of custom musician HPDs, hunting HPDs, etc. so that you can hear what’s important but diminish any possible hearing damage.

Don’t put off wearing the right hearing protection. If you’re not sure which is the right one for your circumstances, contact us and we’ll help you out.

If you have a question or need to book a hearing assessment, you can request a callback or call our expert team at (310) 909-0180.

We look forward to helping you address your hearing challenges.

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Gregory Frazer, PhD, AuD, CCC-A, ABA, NBC-HIS

Dr. Gregory Frazer entered private practice Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensing in 1982. For 14 years he owned and operated Hearing Care Associates, which had 23 offices and was one of the largest audiology private practices in the U.S. Dr. Frazer is a well-known clinician and teacher and was the first audiologist to obtain dual doctorates in Audiology, both a PhD. in Audiology as well as the new Clinical Doctorate of Audiology, the AuD. He is Board Certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiology, and the National Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. Dr. Frazer specializes in the evaluation and treatment of vertigo, dizziness, and hearing and balance disorders. Dr. Frazer is experienced in working with infants, children, and adults. He is semi-fluent in Spanish and Sign Language.