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

April 17, 2023
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Hearing loss is more common than you think. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) projects an estimated 1.5 billion people living with hearing loss globally! With nearly 50 million people are in the United States alone, the likeliness that hearing loss could happen to you or someone you care for is certainly not unlikely. WHO reported in March 2021, that these statistics are projected to grow rapidly—by 2050 WHO projects that, 2.5 billion people worldwide will be living with some degree of hearing loss. WHO’s goal in illuminating these numbers is based on highlighting the importance of prevention, education, and treatment on a global scale, from institutions and governments across the world, to your personal practices. It’s important to remember that the fight against hearing loss must happen one person at a time and this includes you!

Increased Prevalence of Hearing Loss 

2.5 billion is a staggering number. It would mean that around 1 in 4 people would have some degree of hearing loss. Part of the problem is that public perception has to change. In addition, WHO suggests a few factors for this nearly 50 percent increase: 

  • Common misconceptionsThe problem is that many people don’t know they are putting their hearing loss at risk daily due to exposure to loud noise, certain medication, health choices and more. There are so many causes of hearing loss that could be prevented if there was more understanding around where those risks lay. Many people believe that hearing loss only affects older adults, when in truth no one is immune to hearing loss of any age, class or any other demographic.
  • Lack of access to services: One of the most important things you can do to in the continued fight against hearing loss is screen regularly. Your hearing can often get worse, as it is a progressive issue. However, attending regular screenings can alert you to a possible source for future damage and in addition give you access to hearing care which will allow you to hear and communicate better in every aspect of your life. In the United States hearing healthcare is rarely covered by insurance, causing many to shy away from treatment based on the out-of-pocket costs alone. However, in other parts of the world access is even more limited. WHO’s report outlines that in developing countries: 
  • nearly 78% have less than one ENT specialist per million population
  • 93% have less than one audiologist per million population
  • Increased exposure to loud noise: The world keeps getting louder as industry and technology continue to spill into every aspect of our lives. Despite the convivence it’s difficult to find a place for real peace and quiet as we zoom from one noisy environment to another, only to come home to noisy media via headphones or loudspeakers. In fact, WHO estimates that 1.1 children and young adults (ages 12-35) are specifically at risk of developing hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise through audio devices and/or loud venues. 

Hearing Loss Causes 

There are many causes of hearing loss and the more aware we are of them, the greater chance we have of protecting our hearing. This not only includes well known causes such as exposure to loud noise at work or for recreation, but changes to our ears as we age, impact to the head, certain prescription and over the counter medication, environmental toxins, infections, and untreated health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Knowing the Symptoms

The sooner you find treatment the better as unaddressed hearing loss can have detrimental effects on your life which stretch far beyond your ears. This includes rifts in relationships, chronic depression, cognitive decline, social anxiety, a higher risk of dementia as well as higher risks of falls. If you experience any of the following issues, it’s a good idea to schedule a hearing exam right away: 

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • You ask people to repeat themselves frequently
  • Trouble hearing in noisy settings
  • Turning the TV up to the max to hear
  • Difficulty following a conversation 

Screening for Hearing Loss

If you suspect you have a hearing loss, don’t wait to join the growing demographic of people who struggle to hear. Contact us today to schedule a hearing exam. We can test your hearing and help you find the best possible treatment for you.