Approximately 5% of the world’s population - that’s 466 million people - have a disabling form of hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is being estimated that in 2050, more than 900 million people - that’s 1 in 10 people - will experience a disabling hearing loss.
A disabling hearing loss is defined as hearing loss that is over 40 decibels (dB) in the healthier hearing ear for adults and hearing loss that is over 30 dB in the healthier hearing ear in children. Most people with disabling hearing loss live in low or middle-income countries.
About one third of those aged 65 or older, have a disabling hearing loss. Most of these people live in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.
Hearing loss vs deafness
A person with hearing loss is someone who cannot hear as well as someone with normal hearing loss (that’s a hearing threshold of 25 dB or more in each ear). Hearing loss is categorized as mild, moderate, severe or profound. One or both ears can be affected, which can cause difficulty in hearing casual speech or loud sounds.
Someone who is ‘hard of hearing’ has hearing loss that varies between mild to severe. Those who are hard of hearing can communicate with others by verbally speaking and may benefit from using hearing aids, other assistive listening devices and captions. Those with more severe hearing loss may benefit from cochlear implants.
A person who is deaf has profound hearing loss. They have little or no hearing abilities. They use sign language or lip reading to communicate and understand people.
What causes hearing loss and deafness?
Hearing loss and deafness may be congenital (present at birth) or acquired.
Congenital causes could lead to hearing loss that is present at or acquired right after birth. Hearing loss can be caused by genetic factors that may or may not be hereditary, or by pregnancy/birth complications. These include:
Acquired causes can lead to hearing loss at any age. These include:
A common cause of hearing loss in children is suffering from a chronic form of otitis media.
What are the Impacts of hearing loss?
Hearing loss impacts the practical means of communication with others. Development of spoken language is delayed in children who have hearing loss that is not addressed and treated.
Hearing loss that goes unaddressed, or ear diseases like otitis media, will most likely have a negative effect on how children perform academically. These children tend to have higher rates of failure and the need for additional assistance in learning. It would be crucial to have access to the appropriate tools in order for them to have the best learning experience, but those means are not always accessible.
Social and emotional repercussions
Being excluded from interacting with others due to an inability to communicate can create feelings of isolation, loneliness, and frustration. This is especially true with older people who have hearing loss.
According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss that goes untreated can cost $750 billion in health sector costs, costs in educational support, loss in productivity, and societal costs.
In most developing countries, children who have hearing loss rarely receive any education. Adults who have hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed. Among the employed, there is a greater percentage of people with hearing loss who are in the lower levels of employment in comparison to the general workforce.
In order to lower the rate of unemployment for those with hearing loss, it’s important to create access to education and vocational rehabilitation services, particularly for employers.
There has been some suggestion that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.
About 60% of children under 15 years old, have hearing loss cases that were due to preventable causes. Here are most of the preventable causes of childhood hearing loss:
Easy ways to prevent hearing loss
Identify and manage hearing loss
It is very important to detect hearing loss as early as possible in order to intervene. This will help to reduce the impact of hearing loss during a child’s development and education. Early detection and intervention will improve language acquisition and overall education outcomes. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and their family members, should have the opportunity to learn sign language.
Hearing screenings that take place at schools are an effective way to detect ear diseases and hearing loss at an early age. Pure Sound Hearing Aids offers a free hearing test and consultation.
Those with hearing loss can benefit from wearing hearing aids. The global production of hearing aids only fulfills less than 10% of worldwide needs. There is an overall lack of availability of services for fitting and maintaining hearing aid devices, but our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound are readily available for your hearing aid needs.
Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require repairs, re-fittings and new hearing aid fittings. If you are having any problems with your hearing aids, or need supplies for your hearing aids, please call us before visiting one of our offices.