Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Hearing and Balance Injuries

Military personnel are routinely exposed to high levels of noise in combat, training, and by exposure to potentially hazardous conditions on and off duty. One of the most common injuries for service members is noise-induced hearing loss from brief exposure to impulsive noise like weapons fire, and to the long-term effect of continuous noise from engines and other sources. Noise-exposed DOD civilians are also at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.

Whether on or off duty, it's important to follow healthy hearing practices. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow to protect and preserve your hearing:

  • Know the noise levels. Know how to detect dangerous noise levels and when, where, and how to use hearing protection devices to safeguard your ears. There are varieties of mobile applications and hand-held noise meters available that monitor noise levels.
  • Use products with limited noise output. Previously, household tools, such as power tools and lawn maintenance machinery had extremely high noise levels. Some newer products have a more limited noise output, but hearing protection may still be appropriate.
  • Reduce exposure. Limit the amount of time and exposure to high levels of noise, either by turning down the volume or walking away from a noisy environment. Remember, it's easy to keep a set of ear plugs with you at all times.
  • Wear hearing protection. Always use hearing protection devices in noisy recreational or occupational environments.
  • Turn down the volume. When using personal listening devices or watching television, turn down the volume to a safe noise level.
  • Give your ears a rest. If you're using a personal listening device, attending a concert, or in an environment that involves prolonged listening to moderate or loud sounds, your ears need a recovery period or "quiet time" to rest.

Remember, caring properly for your ears is the best way to have continued hearing health. If you are concerned about your hearing or feel you may have hearing loss, contact your local audiology or hearing conservation clinic for more information on how to receive services in your area.

To reduce noise-induced hearing loss, the Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE) collaborates with hearing conservation programs administered by each service component, and through its Comprehensive Hearing Health Program (CHHP). The HCE is launching CHHP across DOD and VA hearing health clinics, which includes hearing loss prevention education during patient counseling and through global outreach.

The HCE was established by DOD in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (P.L. 110-417, Sec 721) to address the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of hearing loss and auditory injury, including auditory-vestibular (balance) dysfunction often related to traumatic brain injury.

Key focus areas include:

  • Developing a data registry to track hearing loss and auditory injuries across the Armed Forces, and sharing the registry data with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA);
  • Preventing hearing loss among service members and veterans, and monitoring the effectiveness of prevention and treatment measures across the VA and DOD;
  • Encouraging and facilitating hearing health research;
  • Developing best practices and clinical education; and
  • Ensuring the coordination and delivery of VA rehabilitation benefits and services to former service members

HCE works to support the continuum of auditory-vestibular system care, from prevention through rehabilitation in service members and their families and veterans.

Get more information about HCE

You also may be interested in...

Patients Contribute to Shape Future Hearing Loss Treatment

Article
6/21/2021
Barbara Kelly from the Hearing Loss Association of America hosting a meeting

Patient-focused meeting could lead to improved hearing loss therapies

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries | June Toolkit | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

MHS Town Hall June 8 2021

Photo
6/8/2021
Images of Dr. Theresa Schulz and Colonel Mark Reynolds

MHS and Military OneSource presents a discussion with experts from the Hearing Center of Excellence and the Vision Center of Excellence.

Recommended Content:

Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Vision Loss | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

MHS and MOS Town Hall: "To Your Health"

Article
6/8/2021
Images of Dr. Theresa Schulz and Colonel Mark Reynolds

MHS and Military OneSource: To Your Health: A Discussion with experts from the Hearing Center of Excellence and the Vision Center of Excellence

Recommended Content:

Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Vision Loss | MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health

Researchers find key senses impact readiness, survival

Article
6/8/2021
Military personnel in driver and casualty evacuation training

Sound localization is a critical component of situational awareness, or to put it in layman’s terms, knowing what is going on around you

Recommended Content:

Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries

MHS and MOS: "To Your Health" Town Hall

Video
6/8/2021
MHS and MOS: "To Your Health" Town Hall

For Vision and Hearing Loss Protection and Prevention Month, we welcome Dr. Theresa Schulz and Colonel Mark Reynolds to talk to us about the important topics of vision and hearing health.

Recommended Content:

Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Vision Loss | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Stay Sight and Sound Ready

Video
6/2/2021
Image of soldier putting headphones on next to a piece of loud equipment

Stay sight and sound ready by protecting your vision and hearing, getting routine exams, and telling your doctor when you're having problems.

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries | Vision Loss | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Strategies for hearing loss prevention help service members stay ready

Article
3/3/2021
An infographic with the words "World Hearing Day" at the top, images of people using their hears to listen, and "educate, protect, monitor" at the bottom

The Defense Health Agency is one of many healthcare entities celebrating World Hearing Day on March 3.

Recommended Content:

Hearing Center of Excellence | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

DoD Instruction 6055.12: Hearing Conservation Program

Congressional Testimony
2/19/2021

In accordance with the authority in DoD Directive (DoDD) 5134.01 and the April 10, 2019 Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum, this issuance: •Implements policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for administering an HCP to prevent hearing loss resulting from occupational and operational illness and injury. •Establishes the DoD Hearing Conservation Working Group (HCWG). •Issues requirements for the integration of noise control into the life cycle of DoD systems and equipment. APPENDIX B

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries

Hearing Protection Measures

Congressional Testimony
1/7/2021

H.R. 2500, HASC Report for FY 2020, 116-120, Pg. 102-103

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries

New report finds military hearing health is improving

Article
12/3/2020
Military doctor inspecting patient's ear

Noise-induced hearing loss is decreasing for active-duty service members.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Hearing Center of Excellence

Audiologist demonstrates importance of hearing conservation

Article
11/10/2020
Woman demonstrating how to insert a foam earplug into the ear

Hearing loss is a significant health and readiness issue for the U.S. military.

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries

Navy audiology increases medical readiness and hearing awareness

Article
10/29/2020
Soldier wearing mask, sitting at laptop with a container of ear plugs close by

"The mission of Navy Audiology is to prevent occupational-related hearing injuries and increase medical readiness."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Hearing and Balance Injuries

Pilot DoD/VA hearing program virtually trains technicians

Article
10/9/2020
Military personnel sitting in front of laptop

HCE virtually trains hearing technicians during COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries | DoD/VA Sharing Initiatives

HCE celebrates 10 years focused on hearing health

Article
7/14/2020
Woman exhibiting correct earplug insertion

Look back on 10 years of service, and what’s been done so far in support of the mission.

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries

Center develops tool to help service members select optimal hearing protection

Article
5/21/2020
Marine holding and aiming a rifle

Hearing loss can have severe consequences for our health and future well-being.

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.