Atlanta – A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that military veterans are 30% more likely to suffer from severe hearing loss than non-veterans.
A substantial proportion of hearing loss in the United States is attributable to employment-related exposure to noise. Among military veterans, the most common service-connected disabilities are hearing impairments, suggesting that occupational noise exposure during military service might cause more veterans to have hearing loss than non-veterans.
However, a recent analysis of data from the 1993-1995 Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study did not find significant differences between the two groups. To further investigate hearing loss among veterans, specifically the prevalence of severe hearing impairment (SHI), data from the 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) were analyzed.
The CDC describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that the prevalence of SHI among veterans was significantly greater than among non-veterans. In fact, veterans were 30% more likely to have SHI than non-veterans after adjusting for age and current occupation, and veterans who served in the United States or overseas during September 2001 to March 2010, the era of overseas contingency operations (including Afghanistan and Iraq), were four times more likely than non-veterans to have SHI.
The CDC concludes that these findings suggest a need for increased emphasis on improving military hearing conservation programs (HCPs) and on hearing loss surveillance in military and veterans’ health systems.
For the complete report, including annotated references, visit this CDC Web page.