Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Hearing isn’t just about your ears. Hearing loss can mean more falls, loneliness, strained relationships, depression, and problems with thinking and brain health.

Getting help with hearing can improve your whole life. You’ll find it easier to communicate with friends, family, co-workers, health providers, and others. Going to restaurants and family gatherings, watching TV, and staying physically active—all this is likely to get easier.

These days, there are many types of help for hearing loss. Treatment can be matched to your situation and goals. It can involve exciting new technology like apps and devices. It can also be as simple as a conversation with a caring professional to learn a few helpful tips.

Experiencing Hearing Loss? You Are Not Alone

Globally, 65% of people over the age of 60 experience some level of hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization.

Hearing loss is a major global health challenge, and numbers will go up as the population ages. Currently, more than 1.5 billion people of all ages (close to one in five) around the world experience hearing loss. Estimates say this number will rise to 2.5 billion by 2050—one in four people.

Treating Hearing Loss

Many people think treating hearing loss means one thing: get hearing aids and start wearing them. This isn’t wrong, but it isn’t the whole story.

Everyone experiences hearing loss differently. You need to understand the hearing loss you have and get help for your specific situation. This personalized approach is called hearing rehabilitation, or audiologic rehabilitation.

Audiologists are hearing rehabilitation specialists.

What Can an Audiologist Do?

When to Get Your Hearing Tested

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all adults from the age of 50 be screened regularly for hearing loss. Screening should happen at five-year intervals until age 64, and then every one to three years.

Screening doesn’t mean a full hearing test. It can begin with a single question from your primary care provider. The main question is whether your life is affected. Are you having trouble enjoying relationships and activities? Are people close to you asking you to get help with your hearing?

Further testing or action will depend on the answers to these questions. Screening can happen at your care provider’s office, in a home care setting, or at a public facility such as a recreation centre. You can even screen your own hearing.

Home Hearing Tests

hearWHO is a free app created by the World Health Organization. It provides basic information about your hearing. This app takes just a few minutes. It displays results clearly and keeps a record of your hearing status over time. You can send your results to a health provider of your choice. The results can guide further actions, if needed.

There are versions in English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Dutch. The English version is designed to be easy for non-native speakers. The app is also available as hearWHOpro for health workers.

Seeing a Health Professional

If have hearing loss, you will see one of the following professionals:

You can make an appointment with an audiologist or a hearing instrument practitioner without a referral.

If your hearing gets worse quickly (over 1 to 3 days) you should get emergency medical care right away

Preventing Hearing Loss

Whether you hear just fine or you need assistance, there are things you can do to protect your hearing.

Don’t put anything in your ear. No cotton buds, toothpicks, or sticks.

Don’t ignore an ear that has pus or any fluid coming out of it. See a doctor.

Don’t treat ear conditions with hot oil, herbal, or home remedies.

Don’t swim or wash in dirty water.

Don’t listen to very loud music or other noise for long periods.

Do wear ear protection in noisy situations at work and play.

Do minimize time spent in noisy situations. Take short breaks to help your ears recover and avoid long-term damage.

Do keep noise volumes down. If you are using headphones or earbuds, keep the sound below 80 decibels, or no more than 60% of maximum.

Do live a healthy lifestyle: stay physically active, eat healthy foods, drink moderately or not at all, don’t smoke, and be socially active.

Do use your hearing. Much like your muscles, hearing benefits from regular workouts. Listen to music, radio, and podcasts, or study a new language.

Hearing Loss by the Numbers

1%
of people in need of hearing aids are not using them
0%
of the global population above the age of 60 experiences some degree of hearing loss
1.5 Billion +
people experience some degree of hearing loss
2.5 Billion
by 2050, it is estimated that some 2.5 billion—one in every four—people will experience hearing loss

Know Your Rights

Both British Columbia and Canada have legislation to support people with disabilities. Not everyone realizes that being mildly or moderately hard of hearing is a disability, but in terms of public policy, it is.

You can ask for help in public places like government offices, health care settings, churches, cultural venues, and educational settings. They are required to provide ways to include people with hearing loss.

How to Communicate with Someone with Hearing Loss

Speak clearly and distinctly, but don’t shout. Shouting makes lip reading harder.

Make sure they can see you. Make eye contact. Find a position where your face is well-lit. Don’t try to carry on a conversation from another room.

Get rid of background noise. Turn off the TV, radio, and music. Don’t talk while water is running. Suggest moving to a quieter place if that will help.

Be patient when you have to repeat something.

Learn about technology that can help with communication and participate willingly in using it.

Remember to include the person in group conversations.

Resources

Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, BC Chapter
1-866-888-2442 / 604-423-3247
info@chha-bc.org

This organization is dedicated to enhancing quality of life for persons with hearing loss. Their website is full of useful information. They provide

  • Education
  • Support for accessibility
  • Webinars on topics like using assisted hearing technology, knowing your rights, finding employment, and COVID strategies
  • A free downloadable kit to help people with hearing loss manage well in health care situations

NALscribe, a free speech-to-text app that you can download on your phone, tablet, or computer. It will ‘listen to’ speech and immediately transform it into writing on the user’s device. This is especially useful when the speaker is wearing a mask, which prevents lip-reading. Created by National Acoustics Laboratories, an Australian government-funded research and solutions-focused organization.

hearWHO is a free app created by the World Health Organization that lets you do a basic hearing test. The app takes just a few minutes. It displays results clearly and keeps a personalized track record of your hearing status over time. You can send your results to a health provider of your choice. The results can guide further actions, if needed. There are versions in English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Dutch. The English version is designed to be easy for non-native speakers. The app is also available as hearWHOpro for health workers.

Healthlink BC—Hearing Loss and Hearing Loss in Adults

Read more about causes, types, and treatment of hearing loss.

Find an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Practitioner
Contact the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC for a list of audiologists and hearing instrument practitioners in your area. You can also visit https://cshbc.ca/ to view the list online. 604-742-6380 enquiries@cshbc.ca