Saturday, June 18, 2016

Soldiers And Hearing Loss

Mary Roach, Daily Beast: Hearing Loss Is a Soldier’s Dire Enemy

Mary Roach hits the firing range to discover what nearly every soldier knows: even mild hearing loss is devastating in battlefield situations, and earplugs, the common solution, may make things worse.

The United States Marine Corps buys a lot of earplugs. You find them all around Camp Pendleton: under the bleachers at the firing range, in the bottoms of washing machines. They are effective, and cheap as bullets,which also turn up in the washing machines. (And, though you didn’t ask for it, here’s one more similarity between bullets and earplugs: Both have been used by physicians to protect their ears from screams. The Army Medical Department Journal states that the real reason soldiers in the pre-anesthesia era were given a bullet to bite was not to help them endure the pain but to quiet their screams. And from a paper called “The History and Development of the E-A-R Foam Earplug” we learn that emergency room docs use foamies “to block the screams of children during difficult procedures.” This was part of a section on “unusual applications,” none of which were especially unusual. I may have had unreasonable expectations for the history of the foam earplug.)

For decades, earplugs and other passive hearing protection have been the main ammunition of military hearing conservation programs. There are those who would like this to change, who believe that the cost can be a great deal higher. That an earplug can be as lethal as a bullet.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My father commanded an artillery unit during the Second World War (he was studying math in university before the war .... so they figured he would be good at knowing how to point the big guns). Bottom line .... my father had suffered severe hearing loss because of his war service. It was not easy for him .... nor for us .... but it is true .... hearing loss is a problem that many soldiers face, and will face for the rest of their lives. On a personal note .... I remember warning one of my girl friends that in our family .... because of my dad .... we could never quietly talk to each other .... we were always yelling at each other because my father was too stubborn to get a hearing aid. She thought that I was joking .... until our first supper together with my family. :)

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