Delayed Hearing Loss from Morse Code Transcription
There is no literature that strongly supports that idea that noise-induced hearing loss expresses itself 30 years after exposure. In general, the courts have ruled that noise-induced hearing loss is an occupational injury, not an occupational disease. In other words, damage done to the inner ear appears instantaneously or within a few weeks of exposure. From a medical perspective, hearing losses caused by noise exposure and hearing loss caused by aging or other progressive inner ear disease are difficult to distinguish. However, the issue has not been fully studied in military veterans. If you had a hearing test (audiogram) before you left service, there is very likely documentation of the hearing loss. Most veterans who served before 1980 received only a whispered voice test during their discharge physicals. This test is inherently inaccurate and insensitive and cannot be used as evidence that your hearing was normal. Because of concerns raised by veterans, Congress mandated a national study of military noise exposure by the National Academy of Sciences. We expect the report sometime this year. The purpose of the study is to determine the nature of military noise exposure and determine when active duty service members began receiving calibrated hearing tests. This study may be the basis for legislation to make it easier for veterans who served before 1980 to be compensated for noise injuries due to occupations that were inherently hazardous. If you believe your hearing loss was caused military service, you should file a claim through your nearest Veterans Service Center (VA Regional Office).