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

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 1 in every 10 people globally will have disabling hearing loss by 2050. This is a sharp increase from the 1.5 billion people who currently live with hearing loss worldwide.  Published in WHO’s first World Report on Hearing, this data also highlights that total health care costs related to untreated hearing loss amount to 1 trillion dollars annually. This emphasizes the importance of prioritizing hearing health and practicing ways to prevent the development of hearing loss. 


What Causes Hearing Loss?

Several factors can cause hearing loss. A few of the most common causes include: 


  • Aging: age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is common among older adults. According to the National Institute of Health, half of the adults over the age of 75 have impaired hearing, underscoring that age is the greatest indicator of hearing loss. A few factors can contribute to this including the aging of the auditory system and natural changes the ears can experience over time, the accumulation of exposure to louder noise, or existing medical conditions which also impact older adults disproportionately. 
  • Loud noise: exposure to loud noise, one time or consistently, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells are responsible for converting incoming soundwaves into electrical signals which are then carried to the brain. This is a critical step in how we can understand what we hear. Loud noise can cause these hair cells to lose sensitivity and/or die which prevents them from helping the brain process sound. WHO estimates that 1 billion teens and young adults worldwide are at increased risk of developing hearing loss as a result of loud noise exposure. 
  • Existing conditions: numerous medical conditions increase the risk of developing hearing loss. This includes cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension. These conditions affect blood and oxygen throughout the body, including the ears which can impact how sound is processed. 

In addition to these common causes, other ways that hearing loss can occur are as a result of head injuries, chronic ear infections, and autoimmune conditions. 


Common Hearing Loss Symptoms

Recognizing the signs of hearing loss and intervening early by seeking treatment is an important way to protect your hearing health. Common symptoms include: 

  • Tinnitus: a buzzing, clicking, or ringing-like noise that can be experienced in both ears. 
  • Speech and sounds are muffled, slurred, or distorted. 
  • Increasing the volume of electronic devices. 
  • Asking others to repeat something or speak louder. 
  • Having trouble hearing in environments with background noise. 
  • Experiencing fatigue or exhaustion after social interactions. 
  • Lip reading to help identify words or to be able to follow a conversation. 

These symptoms can make it challenging to have conversations with others. Strained communication can take a toll on daily life by impacting relationships, work performance, and causing social withdrawal. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it is important to act as soon as possible. 


Preventing Hearing Loss 

Fortunately, there are useful ways that can significantly reduce the risk of developing hearing loss. This include: 

  • Hearing protection. There are different types of hearing wear that are designed to protect the ears. This includes headphones, earbuds, and earmuffs which act as a barrier for the ears; reducing the amount of loud noise that is absorbed. 
  • Reduce exposure to loud noise. In addition to wearing hearing protection, there are additional ways you can reduce your exposure to loud noise. This includes avoiding noisier settings, maintaining lower volume settings on electronic devices, driving with the windows rolled up, etc.  
  • Take listening breaks. The ears and brain are constantly working together to process sound throughout the day. Taking listening breaks provides time for the auditory system to rest and regenerate. You can do this by powering off any sources of loud noise for a few minutes, a few times a day. 
  • Assess hearing. A great way to be proactive about your hearing health is by having your hearing tested regularly. Hearing tests use a painless process that measures your hearing capacity in both ears, establishing your hearing needs. 

Take the first step today by calling us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test!