In the military, hearing and communication are important for survival. If your ability to send, receive, and respond to commands and warning signals is diminished, it can compromise your safety and the well-being of your unit. Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, can affect communication and have an adverse impact on your unit’s mission.
NIHL is the result of exposure to hazardous noise and is one of the most common occupational injuries. Noise-induced hearing loss can occur from a one-time exposure to high intensity noise, such as artillery or small arms fire. NIHL could also develop gradually from repeated exposures to loud sounds over a period of time, such as high-level engine noise. Both types of noise can cause permanent inner ear damage and decreased hearing.
The consequences of NIHL can be substantial in combat and non-combat situations, but it can also affect your personal life. Hearing and communication are fundamental to:
- Relating with family and friends
- Developing relationships
- Joining in team and community activities, and
- Appreciating life events
Your hearing is a critical sense and MUST be protected. Recognizing hazardous noise situations, both on and off duty, and wearing appropriate hearing protection is vital for all Service members.
Keep in mind that hearing health is important to your military career, safety, achievements, and interpersonal relationships. Noise-induced hearing loss can disrupt your readiness and mission effectiveness. Hearing loss has also been associated with depression, chronic disease, and social isolation.