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 (presbycusis) and noice-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are the two most common types. Here are some interesting statistics:
- 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.
- 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 cost of hearing loss to the Canadian economy could be in the tens of billions of dollars. A 2006 Australian study estimated that costs to that nation’s economy from hearing loss amounted to CAD $10.6 billion per year. On a per capita basis, this could mean a Canadian equivalent of almost $18-billion per year. A US National Health and Nutrition Survey revealed that noise is the number one cause of impaired hearing (CDC/NCHS, 2002).
- A major US study first published in the journal Paediatrics found that "approximately 12.5% of American children and young adults in the U.S. are suffering from a hearing disability known as noise-induced hearing threshold shifts (NITS). NITS is basically a change in hearing sensitivity that is experienced as temporary hearing dullness" (Niskar et al, 2001).
- Research shows that over the last 10 years, the percentage of second graders with hearing loss has increased by 280%, while hearing loss for eighth graders has increased over 400% (Montgomery and Fujikawa, 1992).
- A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that nearly 15% of school-aged children had hearing deficits at low and high frequencies (Niskar et al, 2004).
- "Studies have suggested that some population groups are at greater risk for harmful effects of noise. These groups include young children. To date there is sufficient scientific evidence that excessive noise exposure can induce hearing impairment, as well as psycho-social effects such as annoyance, stress-related health effects such as cardiovascular disorders, sleep disturbance and decreased school performance." (Health Effects of Noise, Dr. Sheela Basrur, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto, 2001).