Untreated hearing loss in Canada costs C$ 20 billion each year


News Media Canada

Around 1.7 million people in Canada live with an untreated, disabling hearing loss. Untreated, disabling hearing loss in Canada costs C$ 20 billion each year. Disabling hearing loss in Canada costs around C$ 25 billion each year. This is around C$11,800 per person with an untreated disabling hearing loss. 7% of all adults live with a disabling hearing loss. More than two out of three are not treated for their disabling hearing loss.
The costs are related to lower quality of life and higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss. The cost does not cover extra health care costs caused by hearing loss.

A disabling hearing loss is defined by the Global Burden of Disease research group (GBD) as a hearing loss greater than 35dB on the better ear.

The figures are estimated based on the report “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs” using data about the number of persons with a disabling hearing loss, the use of hearing aids, unemployment and quality of life. The report is a meta study which has analyzed and compared hundreds of scientific studies and papers in the last two decades about the prevalence and the consequences of hearing loss and the use and benefits of hearing aids.

The report documents that the use of hearing aids and other hearing solutions improves health and increases quality of life. It also documents that people with an untreated, disabling hearing loss are at greater risk of social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia, while people who treat their hearing loss do not experience a higher risk than people without hearing loss.

There are around 2.6 million people with a disabling hearing loss (>35 dB) in Canada. More than 1.7 million are not treated for their disabling hearing loss as only around one in three with a disabling hearing loss use hearing aids or other hearing solutions. With a steadily ageing population who live longer and longer and with an earlier onset of hearing loss due to increased noise exposure, this growth will increase even further in the years to come.

“The scientific report clearly demonstrates that untreated hearing loss is a major health issue and that untreated hearing loss has a huge economic and social impact on our society. It also documents that checking your hearing and treating hearing loss pays, both for the individual and for society,” says Secretary General Kim Ruberg, hear-it AISBL, which has published the report.

“If you think you might have a hearing loss, my best advice is to get your hearing checked. You can start by checking your hearing using the WHO “Check your hearing” app, or test your hearing online at www.hear-it.org. But if you suspect that you have hearing problems my best advice is that you get a real hearing test carried out by a hearing professional,” says Kim Ruberg.

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, is carried out for hear-it AISBL by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield, Brunel University in London with the assistance of Professor Mark Atherton, Brunel University, London. In 2006, Professor Bridget Shield compiled the first report for hear-it AISBL: “Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of hearing Impairment”.

Hear-it AISBL is an international, non-commercial organization, based in Brussels, Belgium. The objective of Hear-it AISBL is to collect, process and circulate up-to-date scientific information and other relevant information about hearing loss and its human and socio-economic consequences, as well as the possibilities and benefits of treating hearing loss. The members of Hear-it AISBL include IFHOH (The International Federation of the Hard of Hearing), EFHOH (European Federation of Hard of Hearing People), AEA (European Association of Hearing Aid Professionals) and individual members of the hearing aid industry. Hear-it AISBL runs the world’s largest and leading website on hearing and hearing loss: www.hear-it.org.


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