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

Dr. T

The world continues to become noisier as urban and suburban communities continue to expand, roads extend to nearly every corner of the world and planes soar overhead. However, perhaps it is access to the internet which seems to fill our days with more information and noise than ever before. More and more people globally have normalized the use of smartphones into every aspect of their lives, providing media and information at the tip of our fingertips. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12 and 35 may be at risk for noise induced hearing loss in part due to exposure to sound via personal listening players connected to headphones or earbuds. 

Hearing loss is at a global all time high. In the United States alone it is estimated to affect around 48 million people, however worldwide, WHO estimates this number to be around 1.5 billion. Even more alarming WHO projects that if attitudes and education around hearing loss treatment, risk and prevention don’t change on a global scale, that this number will nearly double by 2050 to 2.5 billion!

Changing Attitudes Around Hearing Health

So what does have to change in order to slow down the rising rates of hearing loss in our world. WHO believes that one of the most effective ways we can fight the rise of world hearing loss is through education around risks to our hearing, prevention and treatment. Preventing hearing loss can start with you and as you educate others. However, the goal is that societal understandings around hearing loss will gradually change one person at a time.

 The Risks to Our Hearing

90 percent of all cases of hearing loss are sensorineural—a permanent type of hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear. While we use our ears to hear, in truth they merely collect sounds and send them to the brain where we process and interpret sounds. Sounds are sent to our brain via tiny hairlike cells called stereocilia. These cells are incredibly fragile and can be damaged by many numbers of factors—the most common being exposure to loud noise. This can occur at work, on our commute, in our home or during recreational activities. Understanding safe listening levels and wearing hearing protection when you can’t lower volume levels is essential in protecting you and the people in your life from noise induced hearing loss.

Other risks to our ear which can cause sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • Impact to the head causing traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Exposure to ototoxic chemicals- this can include environmental toxins or household cleaners
  • Chronic ear infection
  • Chronic health conditions which affect the flow of blood such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Education around Hearing Loss

2.5 billion people with hearing loss globally means that in less than 30 years, potentially 1 in 4 people may be living with permanent hearing loss. Unfortunately, to this day, many people, especially younger generations, don’t take the severity of hearing loss seriously. What can start as simple miscommunications during everyday conversation can escalate into strained relationships, loss of earnings in the workplace, chronic depression, and lowered self-esteem. In addition, untreated hearing loss can escalate into cognitive decline, increasing the risk of dementia as well as decreased mobility due to lessened awareness of environmental sound cues. Understanding the risks associated with hearing loss may perhaps be one key to increasing general perceptions around hearing loss prevention on a global scale.

Increased Resources to Address Hearing Loss

WHO recommends investing in comprehensive education around hearing loss which includes u prevention and education? This can inform people on a greater scale around safe listening standards. In addition, advancements to technology should be adopted to limit sound levels at ranges which can put people’s hearing at risk in occupational settings as well as in available technology.

Schedule a Hearing Exam Today

Access to hearing healthcare on a worldwide scale, means greater ease in scheduling and access to treatment. We are here to help you treat any issue with your hearing that may concern you. Remember that fighting world hearing loss must start on an individual basis. Start a trend in preventing world hearing loss by scheduling a hearing exam with us today.