77% of Canadians with Mild Hearing Loss
Don't Know They Have Hearing Loss

February 2020.

Over half (51%) of Canadians between the ages of 40 and 79 have at least mild hearing loss, but 77% of them don't even realize they have hearing loss, according to a 2019 study from Statistics Canada.

The study used data from the 2019 Canadian Health Measures Survey to compare people with a measured hearing loss found through hearing tests to the number of people who reported having hearing impairment, used a hearing aid, or who had ever been diagnosed with hearing problems.

The number of people whose hearing loss was obvious on a test was significantly larger than the number of people who reported having hearing problems.

So if you are good at doing math that means 39.3% of Canadians between 40 and 79 have at least mild hearing loss and don't know they have it.

Part of it is Denial

“We realized that three quarters of people, essentially, had an unperceived hearing problem,” said Didier Garriguet, a principal researcher at Statistics Canada. “Those individuals that typically seek help for their hearing are those that have more severe hearing loss where there is a direct impact to their communication,” he said.

The people who suffer from mild hearing loss often don't know they have it, or dismiss it as so minor as they think it isn't an issue for them. Thus they don't do anything about it, or refuse to do anything about it.

People were also more likely to have what Statistics Canada called “unperceived hearing loss” if they only had hearing loss in one ear, reported having good overall health and didn’t work in a noisy environment. Hearing loss that was more mild also tended to pass unnoticed, and consequently untreated.

Those with other hearing issues, like tinnitus, were more likely to notice overall hearing loss, Garriguet said, perhaps because they’re paying more attention to their hearing health and want to get rid of tinnitus. Thus they have their hearing tested to determine how to get rid of the tinnitus and end up learning they have also suffered hearing loss.

Dave Gordey, president of the Canadian Academy of Audiology, said he wasn’t surprised by the study results.

Mild hearing loss is around a 10 or 15 per cent loss of hearing acuity, he said, where “in quiet one-on-one conversations with someone that is three to six feet away from you, you may have a little difficulty in understanding what they’re saying.”

That difficulty, he said, would be exacerbated by a noisier environment, where you’d have even more trouble understanding someone - and thus could be dismissed as the room being too loud and not the listener having difficulties due to hearing loss.

There are many reasons why somebody might not know their hearing was deteriorating, he said, though one of the biggest might just be that it happened slowly.

“If these changes are happening very gradually due to aging and if they can control their listening environment where they might be able to get a little bit better audibility or get a little bit closer to that speaker, they may feel that they’re hearing just fine,” he said.

“Just like you would go to the doctor to have a physical once or twice a year, you should also have your hearing checked. We’re trying to encourage family doctors to talk to their patients and say, ‘By the way, you’re now over 50. Have you ever had your hearing checked?’”

If you live in Woodbridge or Vaughan you can have your hearing tested today. In Vaughan or Woodbridge, just phone Omni Hearing (905-605-4593) today to schedule an appointment to get your hearing tested.

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