Facts about hearing loss

Photo by Mark Paton

Did you know that nearly 50 per cent of Canadians have hearing loss that affects their ability to hear speech properly? Unfortunately, only 25 per cent of these people have done something to take care of their hearing issues. 

WHY?: People often don’t realize the extent of their hearing challenges because they usuyally occur gradually. Many people are also concerned about how they will look with hearing aids, and/or the financial investment of hearing aids.

Here are the top 5 myths about hearing loss and the ear that we want to BUST:

Myth 1. People should wait until their hearing is very bad to do something about it.

FALSE. Some people think listening harder will ‘exercise’ the hearing system. Unfortunately, the auditory system is NOT like a muscle.  Extra work and strain drain our brain and our energy and can cause permanent difficulty in understanding sounds in the future.

Myth 2. Hearing loss is not that important if I can ‘get by’.

FALSE. We hear with our ears but listen with our brains. If our ears aren’t working correctly, it affects our brain function in areas like memory and cognition. Humans are good at ‘faking’ it, using their eyes to help them and guessing if they don’t hear things correctly, which is why many people with hearing loss feel they ‘get by’. Sadly, they don’t realize they are missing important parts of conversations and the world around them.

Myth 3. I don’t need to get a hearing test unless I feel I have a problem.

FALSE. Since so many of us are unaware of the extent of our hearing challenges, it is recommended that every person over age 60 have a baseline hearing evaluation. Hearing health suggestions, hearing improvement strategies or devices may be recommended even though you don’t realize you aren’t hearing as accurately as you should be.  It’s important to improve your hearing sooner rather than later for proper brain health.

Myth 4. Ringing in my ears is normal.

FALSE. Frequent ringing in the ears can be a sign of hearing loss. If you experience it more than once in a while, you should definitely get your hearing evaluated. The brain produces sounds to compensate for a lack of sound being sent from the ears when hearing loss is present-this is known as Tinnitus or ringing in the ears.

Myth 5. The best way to clean my ears is with q-tips.

FALSE. Using any pointy object including q-tips can be very dangerous as you can rupture your eardrum. A better option is to use a tissue around your pinky finger to clean out your ear canals after showering.