The World Health Organization Estimates 2.5 Billion with Hearing Loss by 2050

The World Health Organization Estimates 2.5 Billion with Hearing Loss by 2050

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Do you have hearing loss? If so, you are not alone. In fact, you are part of a growing demographic of people with this lifelong disability. In fact, the World Health Organization has declared that by 2050—in less than 30 years, 2.5 billion people may be living with hearing loss!

A Growing Number of People with Hearing Loss!

The World Health Organization estimates that currently 1.5 billion people worldwide have hearing loss and approximately 217 million of these cases are in North and South Americas. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that 48 million people have hearing loss. While countries with less resources tend to have much higher numbers o f hearing loss, the high number here in the US shows that hearing loss can occur regardless of class, age, or gender. Anyone is susceptible to developing hearing loss, so it is important to be aware of the risk factors.

A Younger Demographic with Hearing Loss

A common misconception is that hearing loss only affects older adults. While it is true that in the United States one in three, 65 years or older has hearing loss, the World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12 and 35 worldwide are at risk for permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices at entertainment venues and via personal media players via headphones.  It is important for people of all ages to identify the risks of hearing loss in their daily life in an attempt to slow the growing number of people grappling with this condition. 

Major Risks to Our Hearing Health

In addition to noisy workplace conditions and loud hobbies, there are many other surprising risks to our hearing which is pushing the numbers of global hearing loss higher. This includes chronic ear infections and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, and heart disease. It could also be due to head injuries sustained during high impact sports such as football, rugby or lacrosse and from automobile accidents. Knowing the risks to our hearing, it makes it even more important to wear protective gear when engaging in these activities. In addition there are over 200 prescription and over the counter medications which are classified as ototoxic. Ototoxic chemicals damage the inner ear causing hearing loss and are not just specific to medications. Some may be found in the workplace, in common home cleaning supplies and even in the form of environmental toxins—one reason countries with less resources and higher rates of pollution also have higher rates of hearing loss!

The Cost of Untreated Hearing Loss

Not only is hearing loss a devastating condition, making it harder to connect to the people in your life at home, and in your professional career, but the global cost is astounding! The World Report on Hearing estimates that approximately 1 trillion dollars are lost each year due to hearing loss! How could hearing loss be so expensive?! Hearing loss affects our ability to succeed. In educational and professional settings, as mistakes and miscommunications become common and increase the risk of accidents. For people of school age, hearing loss affects a person’s ability to follow along in class, leading to behavioral issues often misdiagnosed as ADHD. This rough foundational start can continue to affect the future as people with hearing loss often statistically earn less than their hearing counterparts and are more likely to be unemployed.

The other major impact driving the world cost of hearing loss are increased medical bills, not only for the immediate cost of treating hearing loss but from its devastating side effects including higher rates of isolation and loneliness, anxiety, and depression as well as a higher risk factor for accidents leading to hospitalization.

Treating Hearing Loss

Fighting the rise in hearing loss globally can start with you. Do you have hearing loss? Well, there is one way to know for sure. Schedule a hearing exam with us today. Diagnosing and treating a hearing loss early can help you avoid some of the devastating health effects associated with this ongoing condition, by improving your ability to develop healthy relationships, by increasing your mood, your confidence and overall quality of life.  Contact us today to set up a hearing exam so we can find the best solution just for you!