Hearing Loss Services for Enrolled Veterans – No Referral Needed


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Almost half of all Americans over 65 have some form of hearing loss.

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most prevalent service-connected disabilities of all compensation recipients among Veterans.

And it’s not a recent problem. Auditory system disabilities (including hearing loss and tinnitus) are among the most common service-related disabilities in every period of service since WWII.

The most common type of hearing loss among Veterans is a high-frequency hearing loss that varies in severity from mild to profound.  This type of hearing loss is generally caused by noise exposure, age or both.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external noise is present.

The sound can be intermittent or constant, range in severity from mild to severe, and is often described as a ringing, roaring or humming sound.

Although the cause of tinnitus is unknown, there are likely sources that trigger or worsen tinnitus:

  • Hearing loss
  • Noise exposure
  • Injury to head or neck
  • Stress
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Ototoxicity – drug or chemical damage to the inner

Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are treatment options.  The most common include education, sound therapy (including hearing aids), and counseling/psychotherapy.

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids and/or cochlear implants.  Audiologists work with Veterans and their families to improve communication by using advanced technologies and extensive counseling.

VA offers comprehensive care services to Veterans with hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. We are the largest employer of audiologists in the United States, employing over 1,300 audiologists. 

Doctor examining ear of elderly man

Audiology TeleHealth

Through the use of Clinical Video Telehealth, over 70 medical centers currently provide care to 210 VA clinics by connecting patients with providers at the medical center.  Services available through telehealth include hearing evaluations, hearing aid fittings and follow-ups, auditory rehabilitation and tinnitus management.  The VA Audiology and Speech Pathology National Program Office is also exploring ways to provide services directly into the Veteran’s home through computer technologies and mobile device applications.

Who is eligible for audiology care?

All Veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system are eligible for comprehensive audiology diagnostic evaluations.  Specific eligibility rules apply to hearing aid services. Ask your VA doctor for a hearing test if you have concerns about your hearing.

No need for a referral

According to Dr. Rachel McArdle, “Veterans who are enrolled and eligible for VA care can call their VA audiology clinic and ask to be scheduled to have their hearing tested. Additionally, they can always stop at the audiology clinic if they are already at the hospital or clinic for another appointment and ask to be scheduled.” Dr. McArdle is the National Director of Audiology and Speech Pathology.

Author

Hans Petersen

Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.

Comments

  1. James Madere    

    Why is it, that it takes 3 months or more to get an appointment with an audiologist at the New Orleans VA Center??

    1. Veterans Health Administration    

      James, we regret to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing in getting the care or services you need in a timely manner. Please contact the Patient Advocate who can assist you in addressing your concern. The Patient Advocate works directly with management and employees to facilitate resolutions on behalf of Veterans at the facility. You can find their contact information here: https://www.neworleans.va.gov/patients/customerservice.asp

  2. JAMES DEWEY COURVILLE    

    In August 2017, I relocated from the New Orleans area to central Louisiana. Since the Alexandria VA Hospital was closer to my residence at that time, I transferred all of my records from the New Orleans VA Hospital to Alexandria. I am a retired Naval Officer over the age of 65 and hence, use a MEDICARE ADVANTAGE and TRICARE for most of my medical needs. I currently use my VA entitlement as service connected disability for hearing and vision needs. Over the last year, I have come to realize that the service provided by the VA Hospital in Alexandria is far, far inferior to that provided by New Orleans and I would like to return to using the New Orleans VA Hospital even though it will require a 3 hour drive one way. I do not file for travel allowance. Example of poor service is the fact that for the last 6 months, I have been totally without functioning hearing aids. In order to get hearing aids repaired, Alexandria requires an appointment which has a two month backlog. Once one is seen for the appointment, the aids are taken for repairs, and another appointment two months later is required to fit and test the hearing aids. Should something not be correct, the process begins again. PLEASE ADVISE ME AS TO HOW I CAN RETURN TO USING THE VA HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS. COURVILLE, (personal information redacted)

  3. John Norsworthy    

    I got hearing aids approximately 2-3 years ago and have lost one of them.
    Can I get another set??
    Thanks,

    John

    1. Veterans Health Administration    

      Hi John, unfortunately this page does not provide individual medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. That is the function of your VA primary care provider or care team. Please contact your care team or primary care provider at the local VA facility. They can work with you to get you the care and services you need.

  4. Paul Dreas    

    I just moved to the Virginia Beach, VA. area. I have hearing aids from the VA. I got while living in Rochester, N.Y.
    Where is the best place down here to get my hearing aids check and follow up with hearing test and services.

    1. Veterans Health Administration    

      Contact one of the patient advocates at the Hampton VA Medical Center . They can assist in getting you the care and service you need in a timely manner. Here is their information: https://www.hampton.va.gov/patients/customerservice.asp

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