What is NIHL?
NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss) is hearing damage and usually affects veterans. Damage can occur from exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels, being wrongly deployed, failure to provide relevant personal protective equipment and a delay in diagnosing the injury which could result in further and permanent damage.
NIHL or tinnitus can severely impact the combat performance of a soldier, and lead to serious consequences in later life especially if there is a delay in recognising the risk of military hearing loss. In some cases, you may even be medically discharged.
How is military deafness caused?
Military related hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is usually caused by repeated exposure to excessive noise levels and can be difficult to escape.
Hearing loss in the Armed Forces can be brought on by the noise levels from aircrafts, vehicle engines, explosions, pyrotechnics, gun fire and more. However hearing loss and tinnitus are not inevitable results of working in this industry.
It is the responsibility of the MoD to measure any risks, reduce/ control noise levels where possible and provide hearing protection where necessary.
How do you recognise military NIHL?
Because damage from noise exposure can be a gradual process, the condition might not be immediately obvious. Subtle changes may transpire over time, such as difficulty differentiating between background and foreground noise, reliance on louder volumes and lip-reading during conversations. Sounds may become distorted or muffled and phantom noises such as ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring and pulsing can arise.
What are the symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss?
The symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss can include:
- Struggling to hear conversations from a reasonable distance
- Ringing or buzzing in both ears (tinnitus)
- Distorted sounds
- Struggling to hear people speaking on the phone
- Becoming withdrawn from social interactions
- Listening to music/TV at a very high volume
If you suspect NIHL, you should make an appointment for a hearing test which can often determine any damage.
What are the long-term effects of military hearing damage?
Hearing damage is one of the less visible effects of warfare, so it often receives little attention. However military hearing conditions have debilitating long-term effects. As well as the physically irreversible effects of some hearing conditions, ongoing evidence indicates that hearing loss increases the risk of anxiety and doubles the risk of developing depression. Most sufferers of hearing damage report feeling isolated as a result.
What is the time limit for noise-induced hearing loss claims?
Claims for noise-induced hearing loss compensation can usually be made up to three years after the date of injury.
How can we help?
We have a dedicated team of experts who have a wealth of experience in dealing with the intricate and specialist issues that arise for many of our serving personnel and veterans.
If you’ve been injured whilst serving, whether on tour or not, if you are having to deal with the threat of a Court Martial, if you are experiencing problems in the workplace or if, sadly, your family is struggling with marital breakdown, we are here to help you through.
We are proud to offer a 10% discount on our legal fees to all military serving personnel as well as those that are members of the Defence Discount Scheme.
Please note, the information on this page is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor. Always consult with an appropriate professional for specific advice related to your situation.