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About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the fastest growing, and one of the most prevalent chronic conditions facing Canadians today.

While hearing loss has many causes, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), are the two most common types.

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According to Statistics Canada, more than one million adults across the country reported having a hearing-related disability, a number more than 50% greater than the number of people reporting problems with their eyesight (StatsCan, 2002).

Other studies indicate that the true number may reach three million or more Canadian adults, as those suffering from hearing problems often under-report their condition.

Are you one of these people? If so, you are certainly not alone.

Causes of Hearing Loss

One of the most common “myths” about hearing loss is that only “old people” suffer from it! Hearing loss is not just an age-related disability; it is affecting people at younger and younger ages. A study for WorkSafe BC found that 25% of young people entering the workforce had the early warning signs of hearing loss, with a further 4.6% showing “abnormal” results on hearing tests (WorkSafe BC, 2005).

The truth is that there are several causes of hearing loss with “exposure to noise” ranking high among the reasons. The primary causes of hearing loss are:

  • Exposure to noise
  • Family history of hearing loss
  • Medications
  • Aging
  • Disease
  • Head trauma

Types of Hearing Loss

Not all hearing loss can be corrected through the use of hearing aids or alternative listening devices. The type of hearing loss determines the specific treatment required.

Types of Hearing Loss imageThere are four types of hearing loss:

Conductive

This can be temporary or permanent. Caused by wax build up, fluid in the middle ear, disease of the middle ear bones (ossicles), etc.

Sensorineural

This type is often permanent. Occurs in the inner ear (cochlea) when tiny hair cells are damaged or missing.

Mixed

This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Central

This is often caused by auditory nerve diseases and vascular events such as strokes.

Degrees of Hearing Loss

Degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of hearing loss. The table below shows the common hearing loss classification system using decibels (dB HL).

Degree of Hearing Loss Hearing Loss Range (dB HL)
Normal -10 to 15
Slight 16 to 25
Mild 26 to 40
Moderate 41 to 55
Moderately Severe 56 to 70
Severe 71 to 90
Profound 91+

At our Hearing Centres, we strongly believe that educating our patients about their hearing loss is the first and most important step towards providing effective long-term hearing health care.