VA Reveals More Hearing Causation Problems
USVCP Staff Writers
May 24, 2021
Veterans, doctors, caregivers, VSOs, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) all know that one contributing factor to hearing problems experienced by veterans is exposure to loud noises such as gunfire and jet blasts. It is a known fact that such noises cause hearing loss and tinnitus in veterans.
Well, now there is another cause that may be attributable to hearing problems experienced by veterans. Several research studies seem to show a strong correlation between jet fuel and hearing changes suffered by thousands of veterans.
For instance, prolonged jet fuel exposure seems to affect the brain resulting in auditory processing dysfunctions. Such dysfunctions seem to occur inside the brain rather than the ear itself. This means the issue does not involve typical deafness or tinnitus. Instead, the issue is that the brain cannot interpret the sound or decipher the message, making normal communication difficult if not impossible for some veterans.
What exactly is auditory processing dysfunction? What does it look like? Examples of auditory processing dysfunction may include the following:
Spouse says: “I’m going to change lanes.”
Veteran hears: “Did you check your Hanes?”
Spouse says: “I think I’ll cook dinner at six.”
Veteran hears: “I think I’ll quiet down for sticks.”
Spouse says: “Where did you put your high blood pressure medication?”
Veteran hears: “Where does your horn blood specification?”
Auditory processing dysfunction is not just isolated to interactions between people, it can occur in passive experiences such as attending a movie show, a sporting event or watching TV. For instance, auditory processing dysfunction may happen while watching TV in the following ways:
News anchor says: “Looks like we’ll get lots of rain tonight.”
Veteran hears: “Looks like we’ll get lots of pain tonight.”
News anchor says: “There was a shooing today near city hall.”
Veteran hears: “There was a lot of looting today and fear in the city mall.”
Dr. O'neil Guthrie, a research scientist and clinical audiologist with the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System in California, says it's not just the noise that is harmful. It can also be the fuel itself.
Dr. Guthrie wrote in 2014, “ The central auditory nervous system exhibited impaired brainstem encoding of stimulus intensity. These findings may represent important and major shifts in the theoretical framework that governs current understanding of jet fuel and/or jet fuel + noise-induced ototoxicity. From an epidemiologic perspective, results indicate that jet fuel exposure may exert consequences on auditory function that may be more widespread and insidious than what was previously shown.”
If you are a veteran experiencing auditory processing dysfunction and you were regularly exposed to jet fuel, the jet fuel may be to blame for your hearing problems. And, you may be eligible for compensation from the VA. It may be prudent to visit with an accredited VSO or attorney to discuss your options as soon as possible.