Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Tinnitus: Challenges for the Military
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus present special challenges for the military. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and the civilians who serve beside them are exposed to noise levels that are higher than most individuals in industrial operations, putting them at increased risk of hearing loss. Yet these military populations rely on their hearing to a much greater extent than others do. Not only do military personnel, and their civilian counterparts serving in training and combat environments, require hearing for clear communication, but they also need their hearing for optimal survival and lethality. The dangers of miscommunication on the battlefield are clear. For example, imagine hearing “Attack!” instead of “Get back!” in the middle of a firefight. Indeed, the U.S. Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned concluded that command and control during the battle of Fallujah was significantly degraded when exposure to high-intensity combat operations caused NIHL (Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned 2005). Although many military troops and government civilians are not directly involved in firing upon and defeating the enemy, many serve in the same noise hazardous environments as these war fighters, both during training and in combat theaters. This chapter focuses on military-specific noise exposure, the effects of NIHL and tinnitus on military operations, hearing conservation programs within the military, and future directions for NIHL and tinnitus research specific to our military and the civilians who support them.
Thank you to Dr. Colleen LePrell and Ms. Leeann Domanico for their careful editing. Thank you to Dr. Kyle Dennis for his expertise regarding Veterans Affairs. Thank you to Dr. Lynne Marshall and CDR Joel Bealer for their expertise regarding Naval hearing conservation efforts. Thank you to the U.S. Army Public Health Command for their continued support.
- Bergman, M. (2002). On the origins of audiology: American wartime military audiology. Audiology Today, Monograph 1, 1–28.Google Scholar
- Cleveland, L. (2009). Fort Carson: An Army Hearing Program success story. US Army Medical Department Journal, 67–75.Google Scholar
- Crum, P. A. C., & Hafter, E. (2001). The residual effects of visual capture on auditory localization. Proceedings of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology Midwinter Research Meeting, 24, 259.Google Scholar
- Department of the Army. (2008). ST 4–02.501: Army Hearing Program.Google Scholar
- Grantham, M. A. M., Gaston, J. R., & Letowski, T. R. (2010). Auditory recognition of the direction of walking. Paper presented at the presented at ICSV 17: The 17th International Congress on Sound & Vibration, Cairo, Egypt.Google Scholar
- Institute of Medicine. (2005). Noise and military service: Implications for hearing loss and tinnitus. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Jerger, J. (2009). Audiology in the USA. San Diego: Plural Publishing.Google Scholar
- Koelewijn, T., Bronkhorst, A., & Theeuwes, J. (2009). Auditory and visual capture during focused visual attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology and Human Perception Performance, 35(5), 1303–1315.Google Scholar
- Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned. (2005). Command and control and hearing protection.Google Scholar
- McIlwain, D. S., Cave, K., Gates, K., & Ciliax, D. (2008). Evolution of the Army Hearing Program. US Army Medical Department Journal, 62–66.Google Scholar
- McIlwain, S., Sisk, B., & Hill, M. (2009). Cohort case studies on acoustic trauma in Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Army Medical Department Journal, 14–23.Google Scholar
- Myles, K., & Kalb, J. T. (2009). Vibrotactile sensitivity of the head (Report ARL-TR-4696). Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD: Army Research Laboratory.Google Scholar
- Nixon, C. W. (2002). A glimpse of history: The origin of hearing conservation was in the military? United States Air Force Research Laboratory, Report Number AFRL-HE-WP-SR-1998-0005. (AFRL-HE-WP-SR-1998–0005). Retrieved from http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA355531.
- Ohlin, D. (2005). Sound identification training: Auditory armament for the battlefield. CAOHC Update: The Newsletter of the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation, 17(2), 1.Google Scholar
- Ohlin, D. (2010). Hearing protection: It’s not just about noise reduction. EHS Today: The Magazine for Environment, Health, and Safety Leaders. Retrieved from http://ehstoday.com/ppe/hearing-protection-not-about-noise-1342/index1.html.
- Peters, L. J., & Garinther, G. R. (1990). The effects of speech intelligibility on crew performance in an M1A1 tank simulator (Report A604822). Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD: Human Engineering Laboratory.Google Scholar
- Scharine, A. A., & Letowski, T. R. (2005). Factors affecting auditory localization and situational awareness in the urban battlefield. (Report A369134). Army Research Lab, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD: Human Research and Engineering Directorate.Google Scholar
- Scharine, A. A., Letowski, T. R., & Sampson, J. B. (2009). Auditory situation awareness in urban operations. Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 1–24.Google Scholar
- Tyler, R. S. (2000). Tinnitus handbook. San Diego: Thomson Learning.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2010). 2009 Annual Benefits Report. Retrieved from http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/abr/index.asp.
- USACHPPM. (2007). US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine. 2006 Veterans Compensation Charts and VA Disability Reports Retrieved October 26, 2007 from http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/hcp/comp_reports.aspx.
- Wilt, J., & Bjorn, V. (2006). Noise and advanced hearing protection. Paper presented at the 45th Navy Occupational Health & Preventive Medicine Conference.Google Scholar