November 20th 2012 - Posted by Hidden Hearing
It is thought that 60% of active US servicemen that have been exposed to loud blasts from artillery use suffer from some form of hearing loss, and around 49% of these would be left with tinnitus, a kind of ringing or constant buzzing in the ears. With the harsh levels of noise emitted by aircraft, tanks, rocket launchers and explosive devices, these figures are hardly surprising. Mild hearing damage is judged to be the failure to hear low pitched sounds and whispering voices, and severe hearing damage can include total deafness, or a consistent loud ringing or noise that prevents a persons ability to concentrate of individual conversations, or struggle to follow television and radio shows, effectively drowning out the sounds of day to day life.
During military conflicts, soldiers have to rely on their wits, and some soldiers refuse to wear earplugs for fear of their senses being dulled. Despite the military issuing hearing protection to their troops on the ground, not every soldier is actually issued with them, and those who have been provided with ear plugs often do not know how to use them properly. Some soldiers have admitted they either forget to pack their ear protection, or forget to use them during operations.
These days instructions are handed out with the earplugs to ensure the proper use, but unless the solider is given time to read and understand how to use earplugs effectively, then they would be little less than useless.
However, new research being conducted into nutraceuticals by a research team at Henry Ford Hospital in the US offers hope for soldier returning from war zones with hearing problems. It has been found that some nutraceuticals may prevent and even reverse certain hearing losses in soldiers. Antioxidants such as acetyl-l-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid and resveratrol - a substance found in common food and drink sources such as red grapes and red wine.
The research team are said to be the first to identify how acoustic trauma from machinery and explosive devices damages the inner ear cells and breaks down and stops cell growth. According to Dr Seidman, who lead the research team, a pill could soon be developed that could possibly prevent hearing trauma in military forces. The research has been successful on animal subjects, and will soon be tested with humans.
If the new research works well in humans, then the quality of life of returning soldiers will be much improved, as noise-induced hearing loss impacts not only on your hearing ability, but also your balance, your quality of sleep and ability to communicate and participate normally in every day life. The stresses of living with a hearing loss can also affect your blood pressure and your lipid and blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.