Hearing protection is vital at any age, but certain occupations and leisure activities make the need for excellent hearing protection even more important. Which is why the numerous lawsuits against 3M by veterans matter so much.

The veterans that have gone up against 3M have done so because of 3M’s inadequate combat earplugs, which caused the claimants to have a hearing loss and tinnitus they said they would likely not have had if the earplugs had done what they were supposed to.

According to the Veterans Benefits Administration 2020 compensation report, “more than 1.3 million Veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, and more than 2.3 million received compensation for tinnitus,” indicating a very high percentage of our veterans have hearing issues due to their in-service environments.

But much of their hearing loss could have been prevented with the right hearing protection, which is why 3M has lost every lawsuit about this so far.

How Important Is It To Wear Hearing Protection?

Wearing hearing protection in any noisy environment is extremely important. In our community, we have a high population of industrial workers who are exposed to loud noise every day. We also have a large population of hunters who begin hunting at a very young age. Both should always wear the best hearing protection possible.

Hearing protection can mean the difference between constant tinnitus vs. a peaceful mind or a life of struggling to hear and understand your loved ones vs. quality speech discrimination – well into old age.

Basically, hearing loss and tinnitus from loud-noise exposure is 100% preventable.

What Happens If You Don’t Protect Your Hearing Well?

Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual, and without hearing protection, one loud bang or daily work around loud equipment can cause it. Without the right hearing protection, you can eventually expect:

  • Difficulty hearing
  • Difficulties with speech discrimination
  • Lifelong constant ringing in your ears

With the environment of gunfire, explosives, and toxin exposure our veterans are placed in, it’s no wonder they are one of the largest groups of people suffering from a hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Are Veterans Seen By Audiologists Often?

Here at Big Thicket Hearing Aids & Audiology, we see veterans and treat their hearing issues every day.

Most of our older veterans served during a time when hearing protection was not even a thought, and many more served when taking the time to properly wear hearing protection was not an option due to wartime conditions.

The amount of VA benefit for those with a hearing disability is based on the results of an audiologist’s hearing assessment of both ears, so the only way to get it is to ask the VA for a referral and come see us for this hearing assessment.

Having had my externship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and worked for a 12-month period with both veterans and active-duty military, I am very familiar with the steps veterans can take to better their hearing care.

3M Failed Too Many U.S. Veterans

It would seem that 3M chose to prioritize profit over care, with the result that they can expect many more lawsuits such as the ones mentioned in this article. Claimants have accused them of altering test results, hiding design flaws, and neglecting to give full instructions on how to use their earplugs properly.

But even if you have already damaged your hearing with loud noise, it is never too late to begin wearing hearing protection.

What Does 3M’s Failure Mean For The Future Of Hearing Protection?

Hopefully, hearing protection will be taken more seriously, and our armed forces’ hearing healthcare will undergo some major changes for future generations.

An audiologist is the best person to talk to about anything relating to hearing protection because of their many years of education and experience. I’d love to help.

What Other Loud-Noise Environments Require Hearing Protection?

Hunting will always put people at risk of a hearing loss. So many people are shocked when I tell them that one single blast from a gun is enough to damage their hearing. If you are firing a weapon, you should always wear hearing protection.

Noise-induced hearing loss is becoming more common in younger people too, due to their volume settings on their ear pods and headphones. There are volume protective settings on their devices that warn them when the volume is too high.

If You Know A Veteran Suffering With A Hearing Loss…

With more than 1.3 million veterans receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, and more than 2.3 million for tinnitus, it’s likely you do know one or two.

Contact your local VA about obtaining hearing aids to improve hearing, as well as possibly reduce the perception of tinnitus.

You have the right to be seen by a community care provider (a provider closer to your home). You just have to ask the VA for a referral.

What Should You Do To Protect Your Hearing?

There is no reason why anyone should ever experience a hearing loss when there are so many good ways to prevent it. We provide hearing protection – from simple custom molds to Bluetooth-enabled hunter plugs that provide amplification and then clamp down for impulse noises.

Contact us to ask any questions about hearing prevention or to schedule a hearing test to measure any future hearing loss against. If you have any hearing concerns that need seeing to, we’d love to help you.

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Dr. Joni A. Ruiz AuD

Dr. Joni Ruiz is the owner and doctor of audiology at Big Thicket Hearing Aids and Audiology. She earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009 from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Selected for a prestigious fourth-year externship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dr. Ruiz has more than ten years’ experience as an audiologist. She has a heart for patient-centered care. At her hearing care practice, she performs comprehensive diagnostic audiological evaluations, provides aural rehabilitation to her patients and their loved ones, dispenses state of the art hearing aids, and manages the care of said devices for their life. Dr. Ruiz is dedicated to patient education regarding hearing loss, hearing protection, and hearing aid selection.
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