A group of US diplomats stationed in Cuba have suffered hearing loss, and investigators believe they were affected by a “sonic weapon” of which they weren’t aware.
In addition to hearing loss, other symptoms have been reported including severe fatigue and headaches. This was reported in 2016, a year after the embassy in Cuba reopened in 2015. Those who stayed for a short period of time reported symptoms as well.
The Cuban government rejected the allegations saying, “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.” They have launched an investigation as well.
There are four types of hearing loss: auditory processing disorder, conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Auditory processing disorder occurs when the brain cannot process the information or sounds it received.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when something (such as wax, fluid, bony build up such as otosclerosis) impedes the flow of sounds into the inner ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the organs (cochlea) and nerves within the inner ear cannot process or transmit the sounds.
Mixed hearing loss can occur when one has both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of household items such as hair dryers, televisions, ear buds emitting loud sounds, vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers.
Research has been suggested looking into infrasonic frequencies, in which the sound is inaudible to humans (approx. 20 Hz) and its military applications.
This is a developing story.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician