The symptoms of hearing loss from the 3M military earplugs are the same as hearing loss from another cause. The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment are far-reaching, extending into many aspects of a person’s life, with debilitating effects.
Whatever is the source of your ear damage, the signs and symptoms of the resulting hearing loss are consistent. According to Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms include:
According to Mayo Clinic, repetitive exposure to loud noises, especially at the levels of gunfire, explosions, aircraft, or heavy machinery, contributes to hearing loss. Fully aware of the high noise exposures that soldiers endure, as well as the negative consequences of this exposure, the U.S. military strove to minimize the risks of hearing loss in military personnel by issuing hearing protection devices like the 3M Combat Arms version 2 Earplugs, which was provided to service men and women from 2003 to 2015.
Unfortunately, the earplugs were defective, resulting in thousands of soldiers suffering from hearing loss. Many veterans are now filing legal claims against 3M for knowingly selling the defective devices to the Department of Defense (DOD) and without warning soldiers of their defects.
Our sense of hearing connects us socially to the world around us. When we lose that connection, the resulting void affects our lives in many deep and meaningful ways.
For starters, the very act of participating in a conversation becomes difficult. When you cannot understand what a person is saying, you cannot respond to questions or engage with thoughtful commentary. The act of constantly having to ask people to repeat themselves is frustrating and embarrassing. Ultimately, you withdraw from the conversation completely.
This withdrawal marks the first step toward isolation. Gradually, a person in this situation may find a conversation setting so uncomfortable that they avoid situations where a conversation is likely to transpire, and this only increases the feelings of separation and aloneness.
Not surprisingly, such isolation and loneliness can eventually lead to depression.
When it comes to older veterans, a hearing loss can introduce yet another undesirable consequence: cognitive impairment and decline.
Scientists at John Hopkins studied the effects of hearing loss on older test subjects over the course of six years. The scientists found that at the end of the study, cognitive decline occurred 30 to 40 percent faster in test subjects who suffered from a hearing loss than in subjects who had normal hearing.
The researchers concluded that social isolation could explain this direct relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In fact, previous studies had already established that loneliness presents a risk factor for cognitive decline.
The degree of cognitive decline in the John Hopkins study was found to correlate to the extent of hearing loss each subject experienced. As hearing loss is affected by the consistency and pressure impact of high noise levels, it is safe to say that military personnel stand a strong chance of suffering hearing loss when their ears are not protected, as was the case with the 3M Combat Arms earplugs.
If you or a loved one shows signs or symptoms of hearing loss or tinnitus from the defective 3M military earplugs, you deserve to receive compensation for the damages you have suffered.