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Facts about hearing impairment prevalence in Canada

Blurred head of older gentlemen from the side.

Hearing loss doesn’t just affect the elderly. It impacts many young people and is much more prevalent than many realize. In fact, 38 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 20 and 79 have at least mild hearing loss. Here’s a look at some statistics and facts about deafness and hearing impairment.

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss often occurs gradually as part of aging, but it can also be caused by loud noises, trauma, medications or disease. There are two main types of hearing loss:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear or hearing nerve due to aging, exposure to loud noises, injury, disease, certain drugs or an inherited condition. Sensorineural hearing loss is often treated with a conventional hearing aid or an implantable device like a cochlear implant. Ménière’s disease is an example of sensorineurall hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot move from the outer or middle ear to the inner ear. This can be caused by a foreign body in the ear canal, an ear infection and/or fluid in the middle ear, damage or scarring on the eardrum, ear drum, bone abnormality in the middle ear, and malformations of the outer ear It can often be treated with medicine or surgery, and in some cases can be treated with a conventional hearing aid. Otosclerosis is an example of conductive hearing loss.

The consequences of untreated hearing loss

Even minimal hearing loss can impact your day-to-day life. Here are some negative consequences of living with untreated hearing loss.

  • Embarrassment, fatigue, anxiety, depression and distress. Hard-of-hearing people are more likely to experience low self-esteem and depression.
  • Participation limitations. Older adults with hearing loss are more likely to feel social isolationand report loneliness than those with normal hearing.
  • Mobility issues, falls and other injuries. Untreated hearing loss makes older adults up to three times more likely to have a serious fall.
  • Cognitive decline. People with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Unfortunately, many Canadians aged 40 to 79 are unaware they have hearing loss — just 4 per cent of Canadian adults self-reported some level of hearing impairment. Even once hearing loss is suspected, there’s still an average delay of seven years or more before an individual seeks help. The good news is that interventions like hearing aids, aural rehabilitation with audiologists, closed captioning, FM systems (DM – digital modulation is the term more commonly used recently) and visual alarms have been shown to improve quality of life for those with hearing impairment.

Hearing specialists in Alberta

If you think you may be suffering from hearing loss, the team of audiologists at Soundwave Hearing Care can help. We offer comprehensive hearing tests to help you reach an accurate diagnosis. We also carry various hearing devices and lifestyle molds to improve your quality of life. Contact us at one of our four locations across southern Alberta for more information.

All the blogs are reviewed and edited by our clinic's lead audiologist, Dr. Anne Wooliams. Dr. Woolliams is an experienced audiologist specialized in pediatric audiology, auditory processing, and tinnitus/sound sensitivity therapy. She is dedicated to providing top-notch hearing care and helping her clients improve their language and communication abilities. Dr. Woolliams' expertise in literature and linguistics, combined with her passion for helping people improve their language and communication, make her an incredibly valuable asset in the field of audiology. Learn more about Dr. Woolliams.