The chances are that hearing loss will affect you or someone you love. But do you really know how this could change your life?
Statistics Canada estimate that some 4.6 million Canadians aged 20 to 79 have significant hearing loss. To put this in perspective, more than twice as many Canadians report having a hearing disability compared with those having a visual disability. Other reports have suggested that the true figure is considerably higher. In fact, a Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) survey noted that nearly 25% of adult Canadians report some hearing loss.
Deafness is the third most common chronic condition in people aged over 45, and the projected increase in the aging population will exacerbate this problem even further.
However, don’t think for a moment that this is just an issue for the elderly. The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services has warned that 4 out of 1,000 children will be born with or develop early hearing loss.
The research also suggests that hearing loss can have some devastating impacts on other aspects of your life. What will this mean for you? Here are four ways hearing loss may impact on your life?
1. Mental health
Numerous studies have demonstrated a clear link between hearing loss and poor mental health. These negative impacts include:
- Social isolation
- Mood changes such as frustration, grief, and bitterness
Furthermore, a growing body of research suggests that hearing loss may be closely linked with cognitive decline. It is thought that the social isolation and reduced mental stimulation brought about through hearing loss may accelerate the development of dementias such as Alzheimer’s.
Hearing loss can also have a negative impact on the social and cognitive development of children. Language skills play a critical role allowing children to form a healthy relationship with the world around them but hearing loss means that some children miss out on an enormous amount of crucial input.
The good news with all of these mental issues is that hearing aids can reduce these impacts. So, whether you are young or old it is vital that you get some help with your hearing disability.
2. Physical health
Hearing loss can also have serious implications for your physical health. According to the American Diabetes Association diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss as non-diabetics. Nerve damage as a result of out of control blood sugar levels appear to be the likely cause for diabetes related hearing loss.
Your hearing disability may be slowing you down more than you think. A 2006 study found that hearing impaired workers were four to five times more likely to take sick leave. Studies also show that hearing loss can make work more exhausting and significantly increase the time needed for recovery from work place stress.
Again, the use of hearing aids can reduce the impact of hearing loss significantly. Perhaps you are aware of your hearing difficulties but are reluctant to do something about it. Well, there is a very telling reason why you might want to get some professional advice and explore the options.
If you suffer from hearing loss you may be losing more than you think. The impacts of hearing loss on your income can be significant and severe. One study found that those with untreated hearing loss may earn up to $30,000 less than those with normal hearing.
The author also demonstrated a clear link between severe hearing loss and unemployment. The unemployment rate of 15.6% for those with severe hearing loss stands out as being twice as high as the unemployment rate for normal-hearing people.
Even more significant is the fact that both the impacts of income loss and unemployment were almost completely negated with the use of hearing aids.
4. Social cost
We have already looked at the mental cost of untreated hearing loss, and we have seen how your hearing disability may impact on your physical well-being and your financial stability. But perhaps most importantly of all is the devastating effect hearing loss can have on your relationships with your friends and family.
The desire to withdraw in the face of your frustration, grief, and the sense of isolation can be overwhelming. But there is help available. You might want to read this article on the grieving process or this one on how to make life with hearing loss a little easier.
Remember, modern science has made startling advances in hearing aid technology, and hearing aids can go a long way towards making your life a whole lot easier. Some government financial assistance for hearing aids may be available too.
Come and visit us at House of Hearing Clinic — we are here to help you hear.
 Cited in http://www.chs.ca/facts-and-figures
 Cited in http://www.chs.ca/facts-and-figures