Hearing impairment higher in veterans

FORMER US military veterans are 30% more likely to have severe hearing impairment than the general population, experts report.

Occupational health experts from the Centers for Disease Control said an even more concerning finding from a national household study was that veterans who served after 2001 had a fourfold increased likelihood of hearing impairment compared to non-veterans.

This may reflect increased exposure to combat from the US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as soldiers are exposed to high-intensity noise from firearms, explosives, jet engines and machinery.

The United States Department of Defence already requires adherence to hearing conservation regulations, but the new statistics suggest that further intervention is necessary, the report said.

MMWR 2011; 60:955-58