02 March 2009

Military battling hearing loss

New equipment to protect hearing of American Navy personnel and Marines. Improving hearing protection record in Finland.

Noise from weapons, explosives, vehicles and aircraft make noise induced hearing loss one of the most common disabilities in the military. Several countries have introduced equipment to protect the hearing of their men and women in uniform.

US Navy strengthening arsenal against hearing loss

Foam-lined, gel-filled headphones and custom-fitted earplugs replace old-school Mickey Mouse headphones and inexpensive foam earplugs in the US Navy. The newest state-of-the-art hearing protection technology is being adopted in order to reduce hearing loss among aviator sailors and the Marines.

The combination of earplugs, headphones and a new noise-reducing cranial provides noise reductions of 50 dB, according to the Navy Times magazine.

Improvements in level of hearing among Finnish soldiers

Experiences from Finland's defense forces show that improvements in hearing protection pay off. A study among Finnish soldiers indicated that tighter regulations promoting hearing protection resulted in improvements in soldiers performances in hearing screenings.

Researchers compared hearing test results among soldiers in a period (1984-86) before hearing protection regulations were tightened with results in a period (2003-2005) after the changes in regulations. The more recent hearing test results were better, with the most significant improvements in high frequencies.

Sources: www.navytimes.com; Acta Oto-Laryngologica, vol. 128, nr. 9, 2008

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