Noise from weapons, explosives, vehicles, and aircraft make noise-induced hearing loss one of the most common disabilities in the military, but several countries have introduced equipment to protect the hearing of their men and women in uniform.

Foam-lined, gel-filled headphones and custom-fitted earplugs replace old-school Mickey Mouse headphones and inexpensive foam earplugs in the Navy. The newest state-of-the-art hearing protection technology is being adopted to reduce hearing loss among aviator sailors and the Marines.

The combination of earplugs, headphones, and a new noise-reducing cranial provides noise reductions of 50 dB, according to the Navy Times magazine.

Experiences from Finland’s defense forces show that improvements in hearing protection pay off. A study among Finnish soldiers indicated that tighter regulations promoting hearing protection resulted in improvements in soldiers’ performances in hearing screenings.

Researchers compared hearing test results among soldiers in a period (1984 to 86) before hearing protection regulations were tightened with results in a period (2003 to 2005) after the changes in regulations. The more recent hearing test results were better, with the most significant improvements in high frequencies.

Sources:; Acta Oto-Laryngologica, vol. 128, nr  9, 2008

[Source: hear-it]