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

Among the many public health issues facing the globe, the World Health Organization has chosen hearing loss for a massive annual report. This study estimated how many people currently have hearing loss, as well as what we can expect for the future. The basic result of the study is striking. The World Health Organization estimates that 2.5 billion people will have hearing loss by the year 2050. This climb in annual numbers is partially due to population growth across the globe, but it is also due to a rise in youth hearing loss. The World Health Organization and other public health organizations are concerned with the rise in hearing loss due to recreational sources, and they are eager to make a change before it’s too late. Let’s take a closer look at the changes in global rates of hearing loss, as well as what can be done to treat hearing loss once it has already occurred. 

Global Hearing Loss 

As the population of the world increases, rates of hearing loss increase, as well. Hearing loss is highly likely among the oldest population of people over age 70, and this tendency toward age-related hearing loss is unlikely to change. However, rates of noise-induced hearing loss can be reduced through protective measures. When people in noisy occupations wear hearing protection at work, they can reduce their exposure, effectively lowering their risk of hearing loss. Prevention comes in many forms, and some occupations pose a risk to hearing that comes as a surprise, as well. Even occupations that don’t feel excessively loud can pose a risk to hearing over the course of an 8-hour shift or longer. One of the ways the World Health Organization hopes to stem the tide of global hearing loss is to promote proper protection for those who work in loud environments. 

Youth Hearing Loss

The World Health Organization has noticed something concerning when it comes to noise-induced hearing loss, as well. Rates seem to be higher among young people and young adults than they were in the past. What might account for this change? Among the possibilities, public health experts point to the use of recreational audio devices such as Bluetooth speakers, headphones, and earbuds. With the increased availability of streaming audio and other media, it is more possible than ever to blast loud sound into your ears for a prolonged period. For instance, someone who binge watches a television program through earbuds might incur a high rate of noise exposure, and young people are susceptible to this type of noise. With these trends in mind, the World Health Organization and other public health organizations are concerned to get the word out about noise-induced hearing loss through recreational devices. In addition to these new forms of technology, young people are also susceptible to the well-known source of noise exposure from concerts, dance clubs, and sporting events. With these many sources of noise in mind, the World Health Organization was able to predict a rate of hearing loss in the future that is partially based on rates among young people today. 

Global Accessibility of Treatment

With these risks of hearing loss in mind, the World Health Organization also makes it their mission to promote and deliver access to hearing aids for more of the global population. As the world’s population incurs higher rates of hearing loss, it will require higher levels of treatment provision, as well. This need will require increased access to hearing aids and public awareness campaigns to promote delivery of treatment services, as well. Training hearing health professionals in developing countries is another piece of the puzzle, making sure that those who need treatment can find a provider in their area. When we have enough hearing health professionals, hearing aids, and resources to provide these services to the public, the global increase in hearing loss can be met by services to address these needs. If you are eager to help with this public health issue, you can do your part by promoting hearing health right at home by encouraging your loved ones to get a hearing test and to seek treatment as soon as it becomes necessary.