Hearing loss has emerged in recent years as a recognized serious health concern among Canadians. The widespread nature and seriousness of loss is evidenced by results from the 2012 and 2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). This survey indicated that 20% of adults aged 19 to 79 years had at least mild hearing loss in at least one ear.
Hearing loss is associated with social isolation, depression, safety issues, mobility limitations and reduced income and employment opportunities. Among young people, untreated hearing loss leads to poor school experiences and reduced educational/vocational opportunities.
The Canadian survey demonstrated that the likelihood of hearing loss increased with age and that males were overall significantly more likely to suffer hearing loss compared with females. Among children, hearing loss was documented to be less than with adults and more often associated with hearing loss in only a single ear.
The results of the survey support other sources of data, including other Canadian Statistics, which a decade earlier reported, more than one million adults with a hearing-related disability. Further studies by other agencies indicate that hearing loss is woefully underreported and that those suffering from hearing problems could reach a high at three million Canadians. Researchers predict that the number of older adults aged 65 and over in Ontario is projected to be 4.1 million by 2036 and a good percentage of these adults are at risk for hearing loss.
One issue prevalent among people suffering from hearing loss is a lack of awareness of the problem. Without diagnosis, there is no treatment. In recent studies, after testing, close to 70% of adults with a measured loss in hearing did not report a diagnosis by a health care professional. Both a lack of awareness and a deficiency in diagnosis need to be curbed; early diagnosis is the single best factor in creating an effective treatment plan.
Overexposure to Noise
The reasons for hearing loss are many, but noise exposure both at work and in leisure activities is one factor. Working in any environment that requires raised voices is a sign of over exposure to harmful noise; hearing protection is a good, albeit rarely used, safety measure. Other harmful noise exposure comes in the form of personal listening devices and ear buds.
Volume levels on such devices are often exceeding the levels deemed appropriate to prevent hearing damage. If you cannot hear others around you, then your volume levels are likely in excess of good safety guidelines.
Hearing Loss Leads to More Health Issues
Hearing loss is a major health issue for Canadians. When untreated, hearing loss leads to other social and psychological issues. The inability to fully communicate with others leads to isolation, depression, and the suppression of social networks. Unmanaged, such hearing loss increases the risk of cognitive decline and even dementia.
Hearing loss can also lead to physical issues such as loss of balance and increased risks of falls. The key to curbing these problems is diagnosis and treatment. Hearing assistance, in the form of hearing aids, dramatically improves the lives of those affected with loss. Combined with counseling and necessary environmental changes, those suffering from hearing loss can emerge from their isolation to lead socially active and fulfilling lives.
Daniel Shaw is a senior health advisor at a senior housing community. Daniel, regularly helps senior citizens find answers to their health and hearing questions. As well as to their friends and families. Daniel enjoys, the community atmosphere and loves taking walks in the evenings with some of its seniors.