Almost one in five Canadians aged 20 to 79, an estimated 4.6 million adults, was found to have a hearing loss in at least one ear when tested audiometrically. Among those aged 70 to 79 the figure was 65%. Fewer than 4% of the adults reported having a hearing loss themselves. This is the result of a Canadian study published in Health Reports, which shows large disparities between self-reported and measured prevalence of hearing loss.
Mild hearing loss is rarely self-reported
12% of the Canadian adults were found to have a mild hearing loss. These people would be less likely to be aware of or self-report their hearing difficulty and would cope by using adaptive measures such as moving closer to the source of the sound or increasing the volume. For 7% of adults, hearing loss was moderate or severe.
In Canada, the prevalence of hearing loss has typically been estimated through self-reports. However, self-reports may result in underestimates, especially among older adults and among people with mild hearing loss or high-frequency hearing loss.
10.4 million with hearing loss by 2036
According to the study, the number affected is likely to rise substantially in coming decades and is projected to double from 5 million in 2011 to 10.4 million by 2036.
Despite the fact that the study results show a significant number of hearing impaired Canadians, the prevalence of hearing loss may still be underestimated. The study used both collected audiometric and self-reported data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey which only includes data of the population aged 20-79. People aged 80 or older is not included in the data and hearing loss is known to be more common with age.