Surprisingly, nearly one out of every four adult Canadians reports having some hearing loss. And with the swelling tide of the oldest baby boomers just starting to hit retirement age, hearing loss is bound to receive more attention in the future as society comes to grips with its impacts. 

If you’re have difficulty understanding speech or following a conversation when there’s background noise, if sounds seem muffled, if you have to turn the TV up louder than those around you or if you are suffering from tinnitus (ringing in the ears) — you are probably experiencing hearing loss. 

The first step is to book an appointment with an audiologist to get your hearing tested. Audiologists are registered with the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO) and have either a Masters or Doctorate degree in Audiology.

Whether you need a hearing aid, assistive listening device, tinnitus therapy or strategies for communication, an audiologist can help you get reconnected to the world around you.   

Coping with hearing loss

People with hearing loss often feel embarrassed or that others don’t understand their condition. They often try to bluff their way through situations and deny that there is a problem. Although there is overwhelming evidence that hearing aids can help, only one in five who need hearing aids use them. It has also been reported that individuals with hearing loss wait 6 to 10 years before they seek help, during which time the negative impact of hearing loss can increase. 

“Ninety percent of people with hearing loss can improve communication with properly fitted hearing aids and rehabilitative counseling.”

The consequences of undiagnosed and unmanaged hearing loss are significant across the age spectrum. Research links untreated hearing loss to depression, isolation, and withdrawal. Damage to families and relationships can also be caused due to stress, anger, and fatigue from miscommunications.

Hearing loss can be an insidious condition in older adults who often develop compensatory behaviour,  such as acting like they heard fully when they actually missed important information. Once identified, annual retesting is a good idea as hearing loss typically progresses with age. Whether your hearing loss is due to aging, noise or something else, there is help. 

Managing hearing loss

Hearing loss can often be managed with appropriate hearing aids, safety devices, education and aural rehabilitation. Ninety percent of people with hearing loss can improve communication with properly fitted hearing aids and rehabilitative counseling.  

There have been significant leaps in hearing aid technology over the past few years. Today’s hearing aids are smaller, sound more natural, use directional microphones to adapt to your environment and reduce background noise, and have mini internal computers that learn your listening preferences and interface with various Bluetooth accessories.    

Like many health conditions, the key is early intervention. The sooner hearing loss is addressed, the better the outcome.