Hearing: One of our most vulnerable senses

May 15, 2011 by Dr Yanick Larivée

Hearing: One of our most vulnerable senses

Our hearing is one of the most vulnerable senses. In the past, people working in certain industries were at a much greater risk of hearing loss. Today, sound pollution permeates the world of entertainment and leisure, and there are no signs of stopping, with engines too powerful for our needs and excessive noise levels from such things as motorcycles, jet skis and snowmobiles.

While speed limits are being lowered on our streets, there are no laws for the volume on our kids’ iPods, and the industry is not self-regulating where noise is concerned.

Here in Quebec, we still do not have a complete picture of deafness, but we are pressing for more research into the matter. Our clinical intuition leads us to believe that hearing-related conditions are on the rise, but we want to substantiate that.

As an example, we are seeing that some workers are already hearing impaired even before reaching retirement age. We are also noticing that large numbers of fairly young people are suffering from tinnitus, which is often an early sign of deafness.

The Association d’oto-rhino-laryngologie et de chirurgie cervico-faciale du Québec urges its members to be more proactive when it comes to auditory health. This is why training for future ENT specialists is placing increased emphasis on prevention. Beyond their consulting role, ENT specialists are striving for greater community involvement to promote hearing health. The acoustic environment is a priority for us, and we are prepared to push decision-makers to reduce noise levels. ENT professionals also plan to build more partnerships with other auditory health care professionals. For instance, our annual convention, which is taking place October 21 to 23, 2011 in Montréal, will be presented in conjunction with audiologists.

For more information about the Association d’oto-rhino-laryngologie et de chirurgie cervico-faciale du Québec, visit our Web site www.orlquebec.org.
Published with the author’s permission:
– Excerpt taken from the article “L’ouïe, l’un de nos sens les plus menacés” by Michel Dongois, L’Actualité médicale, September 2010.
– Excerpt from an interview by Michel Nadeau in Sourdine, a magazine published by the Association des devenus sourds et des malentendants du Québec, January–February 2011.