It’s fairly common for veterans returning from training or combat to have irritating ringing in their ears. This ringing is called tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ear or head when there is no external sound. It can be a ringing, chirping, whooshing, etc. and it can be debilitating. It can cause long-term sleep disruption, changes in cognitive ability, stress in relationships and employability challenges.
Tinnitus is the number one service-related disability for vets. Any serviceperson who is exposed to very loud noise such as military planes, tanks, guns and more are at a very high risk for damage. In fact, it is believed that as of 2014, there are about 1.5 million veterans receiving military compensation for tinnitus.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are several ways to get relief. Some patients find that background white noise such as a fan is enough to offset the ringing. Others find that a tinnitus device helps alleviate the irritation. Some find that healthy eating and meditation are enough. The key with tinnitus is to find the solution that fits your unique condition.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing military service-induced tinnitus, we recommend reaching out to your local VA clinic. Ask them about their Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM) program to get you started. Also, check out the American Tinnitus Association’s website and, of course, we are always available to answer your tinnitus-related questions.