Statistics demonstrate that hearing loss affects close to 25% of Canadians. This loss is not restricted to older persons and, in fact, 40% of person under the age of 40 claim some degree of hearing loss. In addition to hearing loss being widespread across the population, data also indicates that many stigmas and prejudices exist regarding hearing loss. Some of these attitudes are so strong that they create hurdles for persons need treatment and rehabilitation.
The Canadian Hearing Society Awareness Survey, completed in 2002, remains relevant today as it indicated that even in this modern age, close to 15% of hearing impaired persons would rather live with some hearing loss than wear a hearing aid. On the flip side, one in eight persons admitted an avoidance of persons who are deaf or hearing impaired; their avoidance was based on the fact they had no idea how to best communicate with someone who could not hear. These prejudices combine to create a social health problem.
Untreated, hearing loss leads to other problems including social isolation, depression, and even physical ailments such as the inability to maintain proper balance. The fears associated with wearing a hearing aid can be alleviated through education and technology. Patients can learn how to best use their aids, now often quite small and sophisticated, without bringing unwanted attention to their ailment. Additionally, public information about how to recognize and treat hearing problems can help friends and family members acclimate to a loved one’s suffering.
Hearing loss is a problem that affects not just the person with the loss, but friends, family, and associates. This is why it is of paramount importance to continue to encourage persons who may be suffering to seek testing and treatment. The advantages of early intervention combined with an increased awareness of treatments provides the best foundation for helping the patient and improving society’s perception of hearing loss and rehabilitation.