Hearing loss is not as minor as it sounds

Have you been feeling that others are mumbling or speaking very softly these days? Have you been turning up the volume of your television or sitting closer to it than before?

Have you been feeling that others are mumbling or speaking very softly these days? Have you been turning up the volume of your television or sitting closer to it than before?

According to Statistics Canada, over one million Canadians have a diagnosed hearing impairment and it is suspected that an equal number are experiencing hearing impairment, but are undiagnosed. It is estimated that more than half of Canadians over the age of 65 will experience some hearing difficulties.

Three types of hearing loss exist, depending on the part of the hearing system that is affected. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the ear drum and the inner ear. This is associated with conditions such as wax impaction, tumours in the ear, fluid in the middle ear, infections, perforated eardrum etc. These cause difficulty in hearing faint sounds and can be corrected medically or surgically.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain. The common causes of SNHL are aging-related changes in the ear, overexposure to loud noise, medications and chemicals, hereditary hearing loss, head injury, or structural abnormalities of the inner ear. SNHL reduces our ability to hear high frequency consonants in normal speech as well as the ability to hear faint sounds and can be managed with hearing aids.

While 25 per cent of hearing loss is attributed to aging, a larger percentage is noise-induced. Seniors with SNHL have difficulty distinguishing consonants such as z, s, sh, f, p, k, t, and g. This affects ability to understand speech. Low-frequency hearing loss has little impact on speech recognition.

Seniors with high-frequency hearing loss will usually try to compensate by increasing the volume of the TV and radio, or moving closer to the TV, because the recognition of consonants can be increased by simply increasing the loudness. Alternatively, they may reduce social interactions to avoid embarrassing situations.

Hearing loss can affect our self-esteem, and lead to depression and social withdrawal. In a 10-year longitudinal study, persons with hearing loss were found to have increased brain tissue loss, especially in the parts of the brain responsible for processing sound and speech. This highlights the importance of treating hearing loss sooner rather than later.

Another study conducted at John Hopkins Institute links hearing loss to three-fold increased risk of falling, 36 per cent higher probability of prolonged illnesses, and 56 per cent higher risk of depression.

The inference is that hearing loss is not to be viewed as an inconsequential part of aging, but as a real health concern.

Padmaja Genesh holds a bachelor degree in medicine and surgery as well as a bachelor degree in Gerontology, and has spent several years teaching and working with health care agencies. Comment to padmajaganeshy@yahoo.ca

Just Posted

Several Red Deer businesses’ phone/fax lines taken over by ‘spoofers’

Same ‘prank’ calls were made as happened with RedCliff RCMP

Red Deer apartment project opposed by some neighbours

Two buildings proposed for a site in Normandeau with existing four apartment complexes

Red Deer’s osprey cam celebrities are back

FortisAlberta has webcam set up at nest created as part of avian protection program

Red Deer PCN Women’s Fun Run introduces Community Diaper Dash

Central Albertans will make a dash in diapers to bring lunches to… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Opinion: Schools can’t be exempt from scrutiny

This weekend’s meeting of the Alberta School Councils’ Association promises to be… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Most Read