Signs of Hearing Loss or Tinnitus Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs

Signs of Hearing Loss or Tinnitus Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs

The 3M Company has been the subject of much controversy in recent years. 3M faces thousands of lawsuits nationwide from PFAS contamination to its Bair Hugger Warming Blanket. However, the most significant litigation surrounding 3M concerns its dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs. Hundreds of thousands of veterans have come forward with accusations of hearing loss and tinnitus due to 3M’s defective earplugs. If you used these defective earplugs while serving in the military, you may have developed hearing loss or tinnitus. Continue reading to understand the signs and symptoms of hearing damage related to 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs. 

What are 3M Dual-Ended Arms Earplugs?

In 1998, Aearo Technologies LLC introduced a version of its Combat Arms earplugs. The company designed these earplugs with two ends to provide varying degrees of noise cancellation. One end completely blocked all sound, while the opposite side permitted users to hear partially. With this characteristic, the earplugs should have allowed service members to still listen to orders but preserve their hearing. 

Yet, Aearo Technologies soon discovered that the earplugs were too short and did not fit correctly in all users’ ears. The company also learned that the earplugs could loosen, especially for service members involved in high-intensity work. Despite this realization, the company secured an exclusive contract with the military to supply its earplugs from 2003 to 2015. In 2008, 3M acquired Aearo Technologies but neglected to inform the military regarding the hazards of the earplugs. 

Signs of Hearing Loss Caused by 3M Earplugs

In the military, individuals are constantly bombarded with loud sounds. Artillery, aircraft, heavy machinery, and explosives contribute to an extremely sensitive environment for servicemembers’ ears. Therefore, the military must equip its members with high-quality earplugs to shield them from the noise’s impact. All military branches suffer acute exposure to intense sounds, which the 3M earplugs failed to block out. 

The two most prevalent service-connected disabilities for veterans in the United States are hearing loss and tinnitus. Serving in the military exposes one to repeated instances of loud noises. Without proper noise barriers, this leaves individuals vulnerable to hearing loss and tinnitus. Hearing loss can be sudden but is oftentimes gradual. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of hearing loss include: 

  • Muffled speech or sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against other noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, or loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Hard time understanding people over the phone 
  • Hypersensitivity to certain sounds 

Tinnitus Symptoms

Veterans have also reported developing tinnitus after using the earplugs. Tinnitus is a hearing condition characterized by a ringing in your ears that only you can hear. Other tinnitus victims complain of other phantom sounds in their ears such as:

  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Humming

Tinnitus typically comes and goes at random intervals, but it can greatly affect your concentration and hearing. The pitch of the sounds can range from low to high, and people can experience it in one or both ears. 

It is crucial that you look out for these symptoms of hearing loss if you wore 3M dual-ended combat arms earplugs during your time in the military. Damages to your hearing or tinnitus can result in conditions that affect far more than just your ears. Hearing loss and tinnitus can even impact your mental health, causing you to develop anxiety or depression. Furthermore, the ringing associated with tinnitus may worsen a service member’s PTSD. Also, studies have established a link between cognitive decline and hearing loss. Therefore, you should contact your doctor immediately to determine whether or not you suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus. 

How Our Law Firm Can Help You

The federal multidistrict litigation on 3M earplugs currently has over 250,000 lawsuits filed by active military personnel and veterans. Service members understand that their time in the military will force them to make immense sacrifices. However, the hearing loss and tinnitus caused by defective 3M earplugs were completely preventable. 

Lawsuits allege that 3M concealed the problems with its earplugs to keep its lucrative military contract. Individuals experiencing signs of tinnitus or hearing loss should consult with their doctor as soon as possible. If your doctor diagnosed you with hearing loss or tinnitus after you used 3M earplugs, reach out today to learn more about how a 3M earplug lawsuit can help you. 

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. The Lake Law Firm will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 274-0139.