Half of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan exposed to explosive devices suffer from tinnitus. The major cause is exposure to loud noises, which can damage and destroy hair cells of the inner ear.
Nearly 400,000 troops collected disability for service-related tinnitus in 2006, which cost $539 million in 2006. The number climbs nearly 20 percent each year. It could hit $1 billion by 2011, according to the American Tinnitus Association.
It’s the number one war-related disability. [more at Science blog]