Memorial Day is coming up this month. I see many service men and women in my practice. I would like to thank them and their families for their service, dedication and sacrifice. Many of America’s heroes return from their deployment and/or service time with a hearing loss and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms Disorder). To understand PTSD, we need to define it. It is a traumatic event such as death, threatened death, serious injury or actual or threatened violence. There are simple PTSD and complex PTSD. Simple refers to a single discrete traumatic event which results in feelings of fear, terror or helplessness. Complex PTSD refers to those exposed to repeated trauma over time with some or all the symptoms of simple. The may also include but not be limited to excessive dependence, anxiety, self-hatred, distrust, shame, fatigue, sleep and eating disorders, depression, difficulty planning and difficulties with making decisions, sometimes to the point of paralysis or in need of a service animal.
To compound this disorder many are left with a hearing loss. Individuals with a hearing loss also experience isolation, depression, anxiety and many other communications impairing frustrating hurdles. Tinnitus (pronounced tin- eye-tus or tin-e-tus... either way it is annoying) is a humming, ringing, buzzing, swooshing or any other of a description of sounds in people’s head or ears not heard by others. This often accompanies both PTSD and hearing loss. Hearing loss and tinnitus have been known to be one of the most prevalent in service-connected disabilities. These two conditions together are often referred to as auditory dysfunction. One study noted more that 1.45 and 1 million Veterans receiving disability compensation for hearing loss and /or tinnitus. (Office of Public Heath, 2015 Veteran Benefits Administration 2016). In another study which looked at the prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus cohort of Iraq and Afghanistan (IVA) with post deployment conditions including traumatic brain injury (TBI), PTSD, and other typical post concussive conditions such as headaches and vertigo/dizziness, the Veterans Administration (VA) data years 2001-2014, concluded that TBI, PTSD, and depression were significantly associated with increased hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.
That was just from the IVA deployment in those years. I want to say a big THANK YOU to all who have, are and will be serving in the military, firefighters, EMS, first responders, police, those who defend protect and serve this country and communities they live in as well as their families for the sacrifice they have endured not just in the battles but in the loss of their lives, hearing and overall communication abilities. They are our heroes in the real world. They are worth remembering, hearing and listening to.
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Patricia Larson Shields, AuD FAAA MA CCC-SP/L is a doctor of audiology with her degree from The School of Audiology of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in February, 2003. She has been in business in Mitchell, SD since September, 1991.