Complete Guide to VA Hearing Aids for Tinnitus
Veterans of the United States suffer from different hearing problems as a consequence of their serving time. In fact, among all the military service-related disabilities, hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common ones. To compensate for the hearing loss or tinnitus problems a veteran suffers, the Veteran Affairs or the VA provides free VA-sponsored hearing aids.
Based on the Department of Veteran Affairs reports, around 2.7 million veterans are affected by some sort of hearing problem, be it a hearing loss or tinnitus. In 2016, about 1.1 million veterans were compensated for their hearing loss, whereas the number is even more significant regarding tinnitus, as 1.6 million people were compensated for tinnitus by the VA. Veterans are almost 30% more likely to suffer from hearing problems like tinnitus than other people.
Throughout their time in the military, veterans have encountered numerous events that cause problems in their hearing. The department of veteran affairs helps them get the proper audiology service they need and provides them with hearing aids at discounts or low costs.
Hearing Aids Are Covered Under the Veterans Choice Program
The Veterans Affairs Department says nearly 2 million veterans who have trouble with ringing in the ears or noise sensitivity may now get new hearing aids with a price tag up to $1,100.
The government’s second-largest department says the hearing aids will have a lower monthly payment than those provided under the Veterans Choice program, which caps costs at minimum!
Under President Donald Trump’s Veterans Choice program, veterans who live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical center or who face scheduling challenges may now get private care at VA expense if they have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a facility.
Former VA Secretary David Shulkin had warned that cost-cutting measures were necessary to pay for a department with more than 350,000 employees and a $185 billion budget.
Necessity of VA Hearing aids for Tinnitus
It’s known as tinnitus when a person keeps hearing a buzzing, ringing, beeping, or hissing sound in their ears despite not having any source of those sounds nearby. The tinnitus sound can be high-pitched, low-pitched, or profound. A person can hear these noises either occasionally or constantly. The condition varies from person to person.
This sensation of hearing noises in the ear can be irritating and troublesome. It can create huge problems in going on with normal life.
The US Centers for Disease Control has estimated that around 15% of people in America, over 50 million Americans, are suffering from some sort of tinnitus.
We have already known how tinnitus is even more common in veterans. According to a 2019 study conducted by the researchers of the University of Texas and the South Texas VA Health Care System, tinnitus rates have highly increased in recent years among active service members and veterans.
Their tinnitus problems can be associated with a lot of things. Tinnitus is mainly caused due to old age or exposure to loud noise. Most veterans with tinnitus got it due to sudden loud noise such as gunshots, explosions, etc. Moreover, they got prolonged exposure to other loud noises during combat and training, like jet fuel exposure, ship, submarine, aircraft noises, etc.
But veterans can also get tinnitus from head trauma. A 2019 study found that veterans are often co-diagnosed with hearing problems like tinnitus and head trauma. A 2021 study found relations between PTSD and tinnitus.
Treatment Options of Tinnitus for Veterans
If they suffer from tinnitus due to damage to the inner ears’ hearing cells or damage in thor nerve fibers, the best solution to their problem is using hearing aids. There is no proper cure for permanent tinnitus problems. Hearing aids are the most effective and popular treatment options for tinnitus.
Hearing aids don’t only help to relieve tinnitus; they also help take care of one’s hearing health. Hearing aids make the life of a person with hearing impairment far more convenient and help them get on with their normal life. They can easily communicate with other people and maintain their social life. So, it can be said the best treatment option for veterans to relieve tinnitus is using special hearing aids for tinnitus.
Special Veterans Hearing Aids for Tinnitus
Hearing aids generally help listen better by amplifying sounds and providing a convenient life by providing various features. Based on the studies of the Hearing Loss Association of America, 90 percent of the people with tinnitus suffer from hearing loss problems too. So, most tinnitus patients need assistance in these regards too.
Using hearing aids is important for a person with hearing problems to adequately get on with their normal lives. Special hearing aids for tinnitus do the same by reducing the impact of tinnitus. These hearing aids help a person adapt to tinnitus and manage all the problems that come with it.
Special Hearing Aids for tinnitus offer some special features that help to relieve tinnitus. These features are:
Sound therapy helps to mask problematic and irritating tinnitus noises by using external sounds. The external sound can be low-level music, white noise, special ear masking noise, your own customized sounds, or any other type of sound that you prefer. Sound therapy helps to shift a person’s attention from the tinnitus noises by making them listen to different external sounds.
This feature provides short-term relief from tinnitus by stimulating sounds through the ears.
Tinnitus masking uses external sounds like sound therapy to cover up the disturbing tinnitus noises. But tinnitus masking doesn’t cover up all the tinnitus noises. Instead, some part of the ringing or buzzing sounds gets masked to provide relief to the patient. The remaining tinnitus noises are left audible to allow for habituation to happen.
It becomes easier for patients to adapt to their tinnitus problems when they get habituated with the disturbing sound they hear. It helps them get on with their everyday life despite having trouble.
So, hearing aids that provide any or all of these features are ideal for dealing with tinnitus. The Department of Veteran Affairs provides such hearing aids of good quality to the veterans to help them with their problems. The VA provides hearing aids for tinnitus at low prices or discounts, and for this, they have collaborated with some of the most renowned hearing aid brands.
Qualifying for VA Hearing Aids and Applying for Them
Being a veteran and having tinnitus or other hearing problems don’t make anyone automatically eligible for the VA hearing aids. A veteran needs to fulfill the eligibility requirements for accessing the benefits provided by the VA.
They have to fulfill some criteria, such as having a disability connected to their service, being a purple heart recipient, being a former war prisoner, or many more. You can find the eligibility requirements easily on the website of VA.
After meeting at least one of the eligibility criteria, a veteran will get VA hearing aids for tinnitus. You’ll have to be approved by the VA for getting Veterans Administration hearing aids benefits and other audiology services. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides medical services for diagnosing the hearing condition and then prescribes hearing aids. Then the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) approves the benefits you can get for the hearing aids.
Suppose you don’t get approved right away despite fulfilling the criteria. In that case, you will have to go through some more steps like contacting the National Veterans Association, identifying your VHA location, submitting your VA health benefits application, and reaching the VBA for benefits approval.
The typical VA compensation for hearing loss and tinnitus is providing special hearing aids to the veterans that are suffering from this condition with huge discounts, or low costs, or even at times for free. For this, they have collaborated with some of the most renowned hearing aid brands and manufacturers to do so, like Starkey, Oticon, GN ReSound, Widex, Phonak, etc.
Apart from providing hearing aids for tinnitus, VA medical clinics also provide veterans with a wide range of hearing services, like counseling and diagnostic testing.
The special hearing aids VA provides are of high quality. The veterans don’t need to be skeptical about the quality of those hearing aids at all. Furthermore, VA offers special sound therapy and counseling for tinnitus patients, along with special hearing aids.
Brands That Have Collaborated with VA
Many prominent brands provide high-quality hearing aids for tinnitus to veterans through VA clinics. For instance, Starkey provides hearing aids with innovative technology and excellent sound that help the veterans deeply.
They have great hearing aids for tinnitus that provide impressive features to deal with tinnitus properly. Oticon has also collaborated with VA to provide hearing aids for tinnitus with remarkable technology to veterans. ReSound is also among the proud partners of VA, as they provide special hearing aids for tinnitus with superior quality and features to the veterans. There are also Phonak, Widex, etc.
Tinnitus can create severe difficulties in a Veteran’s life; After going through a lot during their time in the military, the veterans indeed don’t deserve to go through any more difficulties. That’s why the VA hearing aids for tinnitus are given a try. Hearing aids to ease their tinnitus condition and help them get on with their everyday life adequately.
US Government Accountability Office. Hearing loss prevention: improvements to DOD hearing conservation programs could lead to better outcomes. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office; 2011. Accessed July 20, 2011.
US Census Bureau. Current population survey, 2010 annual social and economic (ASEC) supplement. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau; 2010. Accessed July 15, 2011.
Veterans Benefits Administration. Annual benefits report, the fiscal year 2009. Washington, DC: US Department of Veterans Affairs; 2010. Accessed July 15, 2011.
Prewitt A, Harker G, Gilbert TA, Hooker E, O'Neil ME, Reavis KM, Henry JA, Carlson KF.
Mil Med. 2021 Jan 25;186(Suppl 1):167-175. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usaa288. PMID: 33499436
Health Care Utilization and Mental Health Diagnoses Among Veterans With Tinnitus
PMID: 31022360 DOI: 10.1044/2018_AJA-TTR17-18-0042
Mental Health Symptoms Among Veteran VA Users by Tinnitus Severity: A Population-based Survey
PMID: 33499436 PMCID: PMC7980480 (available on 2022-01-25) DOI: 10.1093/milmed/usaa288