November is always an emotional month. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we start to appreciate our family and friends just a little bit more than other months. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are sometimes.
Before we get to that part of the month, we must first pay our respects to our past and present heroes. November 11 is the perfect time to reflect on how different our lives would have been without these brave men and women. We must never forget.
That is why it shocks me when I read about stories such as this one.
Recently in Florida, a judge awarded U.S. Army soldier Mr. Adkins $8.2 million in a settlement with international giant 3M. Mr. Adkins showed the court proof that his permanent hearing damage and tinnitus directly resulted from his faulty ear protection.
There have been many reports about the hearing protection not functioning correctly. In fact, over 259,000 people have come forward to share their displeasure with the hearing protection and lack of assistance from 3M.
While we are happy that the military took action to protect our troops’ hearing, we’re upset that so many were hurt due to this enormous error. We hope all the other cases are resolved justly, and we can look forward to much better equipment for our troops.
At the end of the day, prevention and education are still our greatest weapons against the threat of hearing loss.
How Important Is Hearing Protection When In Noisy Environments?
Wearing hearing protection isn’t just for professional settings. Concerts, theaters, shooting ranges, and riding motorized vehicles are all activities that warrant proper hearing protection.
Hearing loss presents itself gradually. So even if you aren’t feeling any discomfort, your hearing is slowly deteriorating while participating in these types of activities.
Hearing protection is vital if you do work in loud environments. Mechanics and factory workers top this list, as exposure to constant loud noises is very common.
Wearing earplugs or earmuffs is an easy and comfortable solution to keep your hearing safe and prevent hearing loss and tinnitus.
What Are The Outcomes Of Not Protecting Your Hearing?
Unfortunately, not protecting your hearing won’t always get you a check for $8.2 million. Millions of Americans have neglected hearing protection, and, unfortunately, must now face their hearing challenges.
They don’t have to deal with them alone, though. We’re here to help, and no matter what stage your hearing loss is at, we can improve it. We always encourage people to come in as soon as they notice something is wrong.
The majority of my patients already have a severe hearing loss due to neglect. I can help, but it’s much more efficient if we see the problem at its beginning.
In extreme cases, some people can develop serious cognitive issues. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and depression are common among long-term hearing loss patients.
How Often Are Veterans Visiting Their Hearing Care Professionals?
The short answer here is not enough. While I see veterans weekly, that is just a fraction of them who have chosen to seek help.
Having a working relationship with us is a massive step in the right direction. We can identify your unique hearing profile and develop a plan that is customized for you.
We advise everyone to come to see us once a year. Even if you have no issues now, it puts us in the advantageous position of catching problems before they manifest into serious issues.
Patients with a hearing loss should come to see us more often to keep a close eye on how fast their hearing loss is progressing.
How Did 3M Fail So Many U.S. Army Veterans?
Hearing health is widely ignored and taken for granted. It’s terrible that we didn’t take care of our veterans.
That’s one reason why Inland Hearing Aids, Inc. exists – to educate our Washington communities on the long-term effects of neglecting proper ear protection.
According to these articles, 3M altered test results and knew of design flaws before delivering to the military. This flaw resulted in these earplugs becoming dislodged, allowing breaks in the seal. This allows sound to creep in and slowly start eroding a person’s hearing abilities.
3M did not claim any responsibility or admit any wrongdoing in settlement of the claim. Since that announcement, there have been multiple trials.
Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable but only when hearing protection is used correctly for every exposure.
Will This Have An Impact On The Future Of Hearing Protection?
Hopefully, large companies and employers, in general, will see that we as a society take hearing protection seriously.
The military should be more diligent with their product selection and rollout. Protecting our veterans should be number one, and while they have made the first step by getting help, they need to perform their due diligence to secure better preventative measures in the future.
This case is just the start. There are hundreds of thousands of people that have been affected by this negligence. As long as we do our job to inform and educate our community, we can help people avoid these pitfalls.
What Other Noisy Environments Should Require Hearing Protection?
In Washington especially, there are plenty of environments where hearing protection should be worn. We are a state that loves our outdoor activities, and sometimes, those activities are accompanied by dangerous noise levels.
Shooting, hunting, loud equipment in construction sites, and farming are all common in our great state, and all can lead to severe hearing loss.
Foam earplugs are great for all these environments and, if fitted correctly, are barely noticeable.
Are You A Veteran Suffering From A Hearing Loss?
If you think your hearing loss or tinnitus results from your time serving in the military, reach out to your local VA office and request a referral through the community care network to a hearing professional near you if you’re not near one of our clinics.
It’s never too late to address hearing loss, and you could be entitled to free or low-cost hearing aids if the above sounds like you.
We use the most advanced procedures to treat and manage your hearing loss effectively. Our comprehensive hearing assessment is the first stop on the road to improved hearing.
My team and I at Inland Hearing Aids have been rooted in the Moses Lake, Omak, and Ellensburg communities for over 25 years. We have established a reputation as one of the most trusted teams of hearing aid experts in Washington.
If you have any questions regarding our assessment or veteran benefits, then please call us to discuss. Our team is always ready to chat with you to figure out the best solution to your specific issues.