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How to recognize gradual hearing loss known as presbycusis

by ProSound Hearing on June 11, 2020

Every fifth Canadian hears poorly. More and more young people are also affected and thus have difficulties in their jobs.


About 20 percent of Canadians - around 7.5 million people - live with some form of hearing impairment. Although not deafness in the majority of cases, young people are also affected by hearing loss. Anyone who has listened to loud music at around the age of 18 is at 30 to 40 years of age at risk of hearing loss.

Up to 26 percent of 21- to 40-year-olds have difficulty hearing voices and sounds. "But very few are open about it. Many fear stigmatization and problems with their employer," says Giorgia Joyce, Managing Director of the management consultancy My Ability, which deals with the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. 

Distracting background noise
"Many believe that hearing loss simply means hearing everything more quietly. But this is usually not the case. Hearing loss often means that voices and noises are perceived in a distorted manner. Or people affected no longer hear certain sounds and therefore always have to determine the context of what the colleague just said, for example, high voices are the first to be more difficult to understand, "said Tiago. It is typical that those affected are overwhelmed in situations with a lot of background noise - such as in open-plan offices.

Social isolation, depression and increased risk of illness or accidents are known problems of hearing loss.

How to detect hearing loss
These symptoms indicate early and gradual hearing loss:

  • The high notes fade: high-frequency sounds like "s" or "f" are difficult to understand at first. They ignore rushing and hissing noises or high notes such as birdsong.
  • Noisy environments are becoming more and more disturbing: situations with a lot of background noise cause difficulties for those affected, for example conversations at parties or in crowded restaurants.
  • The ear gets tired in the evening: Even if those affected understand other people well during the day - in the evening or in tiring situations, their brains have a hard time deciphering sentences in which the ear has missed one or the other word.
  • How loud is the TV? If the volume of the TV or radio crawls upwards and you can already hear your favorite series in the hallway, a hearing test is appropriate.

"The longer ones hearing is not used, the less effective technical hearing solutions are," emphasizes Herbert Howells, director of the university clinic for ear, nose and throat diseases at the University Of British Columbia. In the case of mild or moderate impairment, hearing aids are a good solution. If they are unsuccessful, hearing implants can help.

Those who torture themselves year after year without hearing aids will have their speech intelligibility reduced at some point and their listening habits will change. If you then get a hearing aid, you often perceive the "correction" as foreign. The longer you wait, the harder it takes to get used to. "People are often six to ten years late for the test. If they use a hearing aid, it will take a longer time to get used to it," says Herbert Howells. In addition: People who have such a device often do not wear it.

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According to estimates, one to two percent of schoolchildren in Canada are hearing impaired, 15 percent 15 to 19-year-olds, 30 percent of over-60s and 50 percent of over-65s. Due to the demographic development, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is increasing - and with it the proportion of people with hearing loss.

The World Health Organization lists adult hearing loss as the world's leading cause of disability. It estimates the global cost of untreated hearing loss at $ 750 to $ 790 billion annually.