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FAQ

Q:

Are there other causes of hearing loss?

A: Hearing loss or tinnitus can result from a range of conditions, injuries, illnesses, hereditary factors, environmental reasons, or foreign substances.
Q:

Are there treatments for hearing loss?

A:

Yes. Treatment for reversible hearing loss depends on the underlying cause as well as the type and degree of hearing loss. The treatments that are available for permanent hearing loss focus on improving hearing, preventing further hearing loss, and developing alternative communication skills.

Q:

Can using my personal listening device damage my hearing?

A:

Personal listening devices can deliver sound directly to the ear at potentially dangerous levels. Noise levels can exceed 85 decibels, which is the maximum safe level for prolonged listening. Prolonged exposure at high volume increases the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Q:

Do hearing protection devices really protect my hearing?

A:

When fitted and worn properly, and used for their intended purposes, hearing protection devices can be extremely effective at preserving your hearing.

Q:

How can I find out if I have hearing loss?

A:

To learn if you have hearing loss, visit an otolaryngologist or audiologist. They can perform tests to evaluate your hearing.

Q:

How can I protect my hearing and prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

A:

It’s important to wear ear plugs, noise muffs, or other hearing protection devices when engaging in noisy activities in order to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

Q:

How do I apply for VA disability benefits, if I have hearing loss or tinnitus due to my military service?

A:

There are a number of ways to apply for VA disability benefits. You can start by reviewing the information in our Help and Support section of this Web site or by calling 1-800-827-1000.

Q:

Is it important to have my hearing tested?

A:

It’s important for everyone, especially those in the military, to have their hearing tested on a regular basis. Military personnel who are constantly exposed to loud noise need to have their hearing tested annually.

Q:

What are hearing protection devices?

A:

Hearing protection devices, or HPDs, play key roles in protecting against potentially damaging noise levels, which can result in hearing loss or tinnitus. Three common HPDs are:

  • Ear plugs
  • Noise muffs, and
  • Noise attenuating helmets
Q:

What are some potentially noisy recreational activities and their noise levels?

A:

Some common recreational activities and their POTENTIAL noise levels include:

  • Motorboats: 85 - 115 decibels
  • Snow mobiles: 99 decibels
  • Motorcycles: 105 decibels
  • Personal listening devices with headphones: 105 - 120 decibels
  • Video arcades: 110 decibels
  • Sporting events: 117 - 139 decibels
  • Movie theaters: 118 decibels
  • Health clubs and aerobic studios: 120 decibels
  • Live music concerts: 120 decibels and beyond
  • Firecrackers at an average distance of 10 feet: 125 - 155 decibels, and
  • Gunshots: 160 - 170 decibels
Q:

What does an audiologist do?

A:

An audiologist performs a number of specialized hearing and balance tests. Audiologists are trained to fit hearing aids. They can help with modifications and adjustments to your hearing aids as you learn to wear them.

Q:

What is a cochlear implant?

A:

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides partial hearing to patients with severe-to-profound bilateral hearing loss. The implant is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear.

Q:

What is a hearing aid?

A:

A hearing aid is an electronic device that picks up and amplifies sound. Sounds that the wearer normally would not hear are increased in volume and therefore better delivered to the ear.

Q:

What is an audiologist?

A:

An audiologist is a healthcare provider with a Master's or Doctoral Degree in Audiology who has completed a period of post-graduate supervised practice and has received national certification and state licensure in Audiology.

Q:

What is an otolaryngologist?

A:

An otolaryngologist is a physician trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat, and related structures of the head and neck.

Q:

What is noise-induced hearing loss?

A: Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, is one of the most common occupational injuries. It is hearing loss that can occur gradually over time or with a single exposure to hazardous noise.
Q:

What is occupational noise?

A: Occupational noise is defined as noise in the workplace. High levels of occupational noise can lead to noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, which is one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States.
Q:

What is the Comprehensive Hearing Health Program?

A:

The Hearing Center of Excellence is launching a Comprehensive Hearing Health Program for all the services, designed to eliminate noise-induced hearing loss through effective education and training, monitoring, and hearing protection fitting.

Q:

What is tinnitus?

A: Tinnitus is a condition that causes ringing or buzzing in the ears.
Q:

What kind of noise causes hearing loss?

A: Sounds are measured in decibels, or dB. With extended or up-close exposure, noises that reach 85 decibels or higher can cause permanent damage to the cilia or hair cells in the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Q:

What tips should I follow when using my personal listening device?

A:

Practice safe-listening tips that include:

  • Never listen at 100 percent volume level.
  • Listen at 60 percent of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.
  • If the device has a “smart volume” feature, use it.
  • Keep the volume low, even in noisy situations.
  • Take periodic breaks of 15-20 minutes to allow ears to recover.
  • Choose noise-cancelling headphones or ear buds.
  • Wear ear buds or headphones according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Q:

Will wearing hearing protection devices decrease my situational awareness?

A:

Hearing protection devices are available that can simultaneously protect hearing and enhance situational awareness.

Quick Fact

#14

Even if you already have hearing loss, it’s still important to wear hearing protection devices to preserve the hearing you have left.

About Us

The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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The Hearing Center of Excellence is committed to promoting Hearing Loss Programs and Hearing Loss Prevention Initiatives across the DoD. Take the pledge to implement the Comprehensive Hearing Health Program (CHHP) at your local clinic and share with us how it's going for you!

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