Groupe Forget - Polyclinique de l'Oreille
myth and reality hearing loss

Hearing loss myths: fact or fiction?

There are certain wide spread beliefs about hearing loss. Some are true, others are myths. Here are some examples.

When listening to music, it’s better to use headphones that cover the ears than ear buds.

TRUE! As a rule, earphones that are placed in the ear (earbuds) allow more outside sounds to infiltrate than cup headphones do. We tend to turn up the volume to cover environmental sounds, which exposes us to louder sound and to the risk of having an accident while walking or jogging.

Hearing aids whistle and are uncomfortable.

FALSE! The new generation of hearing aids make the most of the latest innovations in digital sound and their performance is unprecedented. Your audioprosthetist will adjust your hearing aids to make you comfortable. Tell your audioprosthetist about any problems so he or she may correct them using appropriate instruments.

Hearing loss is often irreversible.

TRUE! The cells in your ear cannot regenerate. So there is no reason to wait for the problem to go away, because it will likely only get worse! Only medical attention and a hearing aid can improve or correct your hearing.

Blockage from earwax build-up can affect hearing.

TRUE! An accumulation of earwax in the ear canal hinders the passage of sound and reduces hearing acuity. Adults who often ask people to repeat themselves at meetings or during meals, or who regularly turn the volume up on the television may be showing signs of decreased hearing, which should alert this person that there is a problem and incite him or her to find out what is causing it.

Hearing aids are visible and ungraceful.

FALSE! There are different types of hearing aids (in the ear or behind the ear) and many different models. In recent years, hearing aids have become more discrete thanks to new technology and miniaturization.

I feel like I have hearing loss, but I can still hear so I can wait before seeing a professional.

FALSE! As with any other health problem, it is important to consult a professional as soon as you notice any signs so that the problem can be treated if possible and so that corrective measures can be quickly implemented.

Delayed language in a child may be a sign of hearing loss.

TRUE! Delayed language is one of the most relevant signs in children. Other indicators are: not responding when called, repeatedly touching the ears as if they hurt, speaking abnormally loud or distorting words. If you are concerned, contact your doctor who will refer you to a hearing professional if needed.

Decibels accumulate.

FALSE! Two vacuums each producing 80 decibels and running at the same time, will increase the decibel level to 83, not 160.

I can hide my hearing problem.

FALSE! Untreated hearing loss can seriously affect conversations with your friends and family. Unless you avoid all contact with others, you simply cannot hide your hearing problem. A hearing aid is always more discreet than your hearing loss, and it will allow you to participate actively in all your activities.

Only 25% of people with hearing loss use hearing aids.

TRUE! 15% of people 18 and over say they have hearing problems, but fewer than one person out of five with hearing loss uses a hearing aid. Hearing loss is too often considered a taboo subject.

If I wear a hearing aid, my ear will get “lazy”.

FALSE! Just the opposite! Wearing a hearing aid stimulates your ear and it won’t lose the habit of hearing and processing the sounds that are important to understanding speech.

Even if we don’t feel we have hearing loss, it is recommended to do regular hearing tests after 60 years old.

TRUE! Reduced hearing often comes with age. In fact, one person out of three has hearing loss after 65 years old. It is recommended to regularly assess our hearing starting at the age of 60.


By Isabelle Gauthier, audiologist, Polyclinique de l’Oreille
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