Deafness in Canada: Diagnosis and Management
According to statistics, there are more than one million adults across Canada reported to have a hearing disability. Hearing loss is unequivocally the fastest growing chronic condition Canadians currently face, and some may qualify for Canada’s disability tax credit. If you are dealing with hearing loss or deafness, understanding the condition is important, and will help you find ways to live a quality life despite your hearing loss.
Deafness has many causes, but the most common reasons are presbycusis, age related hearing loss, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Being overexposed to high-decibel noise is the most common reason for hearing loss. High noise levels damage delicate structures inside the ear causing them to malfunction and eventually cease to function at all. People tend to not take the proper care when exposed to noise and, therefore, unwittingly cause hearing damage.
Age and noise exposure aren’t the only causes of hearing loss, however. Here is a list of other possible causes in both adults and children:
- Congenital conditions
- Prenatal conditions
- Repeated infections of the ears
- Head trauma
- Bone abnormalities—Ears contain some of the smallest and most fragile bone structures in the human body.
Preventative hearing care is important because of how hearing loss can impact your everyday life. Using proper hearing protection during noise exposure is crucial for caring for your hearing.
Facts about Deafness and Hearing Loss
Although deafness can permanently affect people’s lives, there are deaf communities that embrace Deaf Culture. Those associated with Deaf Culture are opposed to the so-called “medicalization of deafness,” which tries to apply treatments to deafness at any cost. Here are some other facts about hearing loss and deafness:
- One in Five—One in Five teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 have some degree of hearing loss, usually due to noise damage.
- Over 25 percent of all hearing loss is associated with aging.
- The Spectrum—Hearing loss ranges from minor hearing problems to total deafness. Conductive hearing loss is when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear due to wax build up or blockage. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the nerves within the inner ear responsible for delivering sound information to the brain.
There are numerous factors that lead to hearing loss, so it’s important to take good care of your ears whenever possible. Some hearing loss is not preventable, however, such as genetic predispositions, loss caused by certain viral infections, and specific nerve disorders.
Treating and Living with Deafness
There have been many technological advances that help treat hearing loss, including cochlear implants and hearing aids. Sensorineural hearing loss has a higher tendency to be permanent because of the involvement of nerve damage within the inner ear, but the use of hearing aids can help in some cases.
In order to communicate, many deaf people develop sign language and lip reading skills. There are many resources for those living with deafness or hearing loss including:
- The Hearing Foundation of Canada (THFC)—A non-profit organization that is committed to eliminating the effects of hearing loss for Canadians by encouraging prevention, diagnosis, and research.
- The Canadian Association of the Deaf —Participates and promotes the rights, needs and concerns for the deaf community of Canada.
- The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS)—Employer and resource for those living with the effects of hearing loss and deafness.
If you or a loved one is either at risk or lives with hearing loss or deafness, contact a physician for proper diagnosis and support. There are plenty of helpful support organizations available for resources and guidance, and you may even qualify for a disability tax credit.
For more information: Canadian Hearing Society