If you are a veteran who has problems with your hearing, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing problems are the most common type of disability that American veterans experience in connection with their service.
While many veterans experience hearing loss, that is not the only type of service-connected hearing problem. If you have trouble understanding people when they speak, you may have auditory processing disorder.
What causes auditory processing disorder?
To understand auditory processing disorder, you have to understand how the sense of hearing works. First, the outer ear collects sound waves, then the middle ear converts these sound waves into vibrations. In the inner ear, the vibrations stimulate nerve endings that send electrical signals to the brain, which then interprets them as sound.
According to Healthline, auditory processing disorder is a problem with the brain’s ability to interpret the words that other people say to you as intelligible speech. It is not a form of hearing loss, so your results on hearing tests may be completely normal. Veterans with a history of blast exposure are at increased risk of developing auditory processing disorder.
What is the treatment for auditory processing disorder?
While there is no cure for auditory processing disorder, there are things you can do to help you understand speech better. For example, interpreting speech is even more difficult in the setting of background noise, so you may be able to alter your environment to make it quieter.
With the help of a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist, you may also be able to learn auditory training to help you analyze sounds or compensatory strategies such as active listening techniques.