The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), Sheffield, UK, is advising members of the Armed Forces to be aware of the dangers of excessive noise while they are undergoing training and intense combat, says a statement released by the organization.

The warning comes as a soldier who had suffered permanent hearing loss and tinnitus in one ear as a result of exposure to excessive noise during basic training received medi attention. The soldier, 22, was ordered to not use ear defenders during a live-firing exercise in 2004, and this led to him experiencing ‘fuzzy noises’ in his left ear and ultimately being discharged from the army on medical grounds in 2007, says the statement.

According to research published in October 2008 by The Times newspaper, hearing loss and tinnitus is a common problem among those working in the Armed Forces, the statement says. Nearly one-third of the 691 soldiers in the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglians, who returned from a 6-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in October 2007, suffered hearing difficulties, says the statement.

The BTA says it receives hundreds of calls weekly from tinnitus sufferers on its free phone helpline (0800 018 0527), many of whom are former soldiers or people who have worked in noisy environments, says the statement.

[Source: British Tinnitus Association]