Multinational Company 3M Has Caused Our Veterans Irreparable Hearing Loss

11/10/2021 | Hearing Aids, Hearing Loss, Industry News, Patient Resources

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With November upon us, we like to take this time of the month to appreciate our military. Those who have served this great country in the past and present.

On November 11, we will join to thank our heroes. Veterans have sacrificed so much for us. Many have been exposed to so much noise over the years during their service. We are grateful for them and grateful to honor them this month!

That’s why it’s so hard for me to read news about companies selling our military faulty equipment that causes permanent hearing damage. Multinational company 3M has been accused of this and subsequently taken to court over it. Recently, a verdict was rendered.

The court saw reason to believe that a design defect caused a U.S. veteran’s hearing loss and tinnitus. He was awarded $8.2 million for damages caused.

This case was the third one like it that was also successful. There are still 259,000 cases pending, all regarding this product that causes severe hearing loss.  

The Military Isn’t The Only Place For Hearing Loss

There are many instances where loud noise is absorbed unknowingly. It doesn’t have to physically hurt to cause minor damage, which will add up to significant damage over time.

For mechanics and factory workers, this holds true. Being around loud machines all day for years will slowly produce hearing loss. This is not something a person “gets used to.” Your hearing will gradually diminish, and you may not notice until it’s too late.

I always recommend hearing protection for these lines of work and loud hobbies such as gun ranges and riding motorcycles. Prevention is better than cure.

Here’s What Happens If You Don’t Address Your Hearing Loss

Declining hearing health is challenging for people to diagnose themselves. It’s not as evident as other harmful health conditions. Hearing loss presents itself gradually over a long period of time. A person adapts without even knowing it.

If you notice that your hearing is less effective than last year, your hearing loss probably started many years ago. Any indication of hearing loss should result in a visit to your local audiologist.

When hearing loss is left untreated, it can lead to a range of adverse effects. When the brain no longer receives the stimulation it once did, this can lead to a decline in cognitive function – which in turn can eventually result in dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

How Often Do Veterans Visit An Audiologist?

In my office, I see veterans weekly. We have a very proud community here in Lubbock and Snyder, and we’re pleased to be a part of it and help out as much as possible.

Truthfully, I know there are still many veterans out there who should visit us. I think they would be surprised just how easy it is to get help. Our comprehensive hearing assessment is a non-invasive way for us to understand your unique hearing circumstances.

By having an assessment at least once a year (every six months if there are problems), we can identify any issues no matter how slowly they progress.

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How One Company Failed Our Troops On Hearing Protection

On one hand, it’s great to know that hearing protection is now being supplied to our military – since hearing protection was never a thing for the older generation. I have treated some very unlucky veterans who did not have such luxury during their service.

However, hearing protection is useless if the design doesn’t provide the adequate protection it’s supposed to. 3M failed to convey the proper way to wear these after discovering the flaw in their design.

The danger with foam-type plugs is placement. If not placed perfectly, then noise can seep in without the wearer noticing. This happened to the man who wore the earplugs made by 3M issued by our government.

We often recommend earmuffs or custom plugs because you can guarantee they are in the right place and therefore doing their job.

We are glad that the one veteran in this case has received justice, and we hope everyone else who suffers from the same condition gets the verdict they deserve too.

What Does This Mean For The Future Of Hearing Protection?

It concerns me for one main reason. After seeing so many people have a negative experience with earplugs, many people may adopt the attitude of “why bother?” What would be the point of wearing something that doesn’t work? I can’t blame them for thinking this way.

However, the flip side of that coin is the hope that people see the mistake made and choose to learn from it.

Hearing protection works; of this we are certain. And prevention is the best way to keep your hearing intact and healthy. So, we will do anything we can do for our community and beyond to ensure education and awareness is spread and people receive the proper hearing care.

Where Else Should Hearing Protection Be Worn?

In Texas especially, there are plenty of environments where hearing protection should be worn.

Shooting, hunting, loud equipment in construction sites, and farming are all common in our great state, and all can lead to severe hearing loss.

Our recreational time could use some hearing protection as well. Concerts, loud events, fireworks, and riding motorcycles will all slowly whittle away at your hearing capability.

Don’t shy away from protecting your ears. Foam earplugs are great for all these environments and, if fitted correctly, are barely noticeable.

We offer custom plugs and free foam plugs (giving patients advice on placement) – please get in touch to find out more.

Need Support With Hearing Loss Or Hearing Protection?

It’s never too late to address hearing loss, and you could be entitled to free or low-cost hearing aids if you’ve suffered a hearing loss as a result of your service in the military.

If this is the case, then reach out to your local VA office. They can help you with the details of getting assistance through them. If you have any questions regarding this process, then please call us to find out more.

In the meantime, get a hearing assessment, monitor your hearing annually, and wear hearing aids if you have a hearing loss. It can stabilize your hearing decline and connect you to those around you.

We hope you all have a blessed Veterans Day!

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Julie Hubik, Au.D., CCC-A - Doctor of Audiology & CEO of Cornerstone Audiology

Dr. Hubik is the owner and founder of one of West Texas' most trusted and professional hearing providers, Cornerstone Audiology. She received her bachelor of science degree in communication disorders as well as her doctorate of audiology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). In her youth, Dr. Hubik became interested in helping people with a hearing loss to communicate more effectively and therefore pursued a degree in this field. Dr. Hubik was born and raised in Anton, Texas, and appreciates working with the people of West Texas. She and her team are proud to serve the hearing needs of their community.

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