Occupational Noise Exposure and Longitudinal Hearing Changes in Post-9/11 US Military Personnel During an Initial Period of Military Service
Auditory impairments, particularly those resulting from hazardous occupational noise exposures, are pressing concerns for the US Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). However, to date, no studies have estimated the rate of hearing threshold change that occurs during service or how changes may vary by military occupation. Hearing threshold changes during military service have historically been reported as the proportion of Service members demonstrating a significant threshold shift. This approach does not capture the rate of the hearing threshold change or the specific audiometric frequencies impacted. Determining the rate of hearing threshold change, and factors that affect the rate of change, is important to elucidate the impact of military service on hearing and to guide prevention strategies and subsequent hearing health care. Our primary objective was to estimate the annual rate of hearing threshold change during military service as a consequence of military occupational noise exposure ranking.