Important facts

  • 360 million people worldwide have disability-related hearing loss (1), of which 32 million are children.
  • Hearing loss may be caused by heredity, childbirth syndrome, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, taking specific medications, exposure to excessive noise and ageing.
  • Sixty percent of children's hearing loss stems from preventable causes.
  • 1.1 billion young people (between the ages of 12 and 35) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in the entertainment environment.
  • Hearing loss is untreated, costing the world 750 billion U.S. dollars each year (2). Interventions aimed at preventing, identifying and managing hearing loss are cost-effective and can bring great benefits to individuals.
  • The use of hearing aids, implants, cochlear implants or assistive devices can be helpful for people with hearing loss. They can also benefit from subtitles and sign language and other forms of education and social support.
  • 5% of the world's population, or 360 million people, have the disability-related hearing loss (328 million adults, 32 million children). Disability hearing loss means hearing loss of more than 40 dB for the adult's better ear and more than 30 dB for the hearing loss of the child's better ear. Most people with disability-related hearing loss live in low-income and middle-income countries.

    About one-third of people over the age of 65 have disability hearing loss. The prevalence of disability-related hearing loss in this age group is highest in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.

    Hearing loss and deafness

    People who do not hear as well as normal listeners (hearing threshold at both ears of 25 dB or better) have hearing loss. Hearing loss ranged from mild to moderate, severe and very severe. It can affect one ear, it can affect both ears, causing difficulty in listening to conversations or loud voices.

    "Dorsal ear" means suffering from mild to severe hearing loss. The person with the dorsal ear can usually communicate and benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants, other assistive devices, and subtitles. More severe hearing loss can be implanted cochlear implants.

    Most people who are "deaf" have a very severe hearing loss, either at the basic or complete hearing. They often use sign language to communicate.

    Hearing loss and the cause of deafness

    Hearing loss and deafness have congenital causes also have acquired reason.

    Congenital causes

    Congenital causes may lead to hearing loss at birth or shortly after birth. Hearing loss may be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors and may also result from certain complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including:

  • Pregnant women infected with rubella, syphilis or some other infection;
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth suffocation (hypoxia during childbirth);
  • Improper use of special drugs during pregnancy (eg aminoglycosides, cytotoxic drugs, antimalarials and diuretics);
  • Severe neonatal jaundice, may damage the newborn auditory nerve.
  • Acquired reason

    Acquired causes may lead to hearing loss at any age, for example:

  • Meningitis, measles and mumps and other infectious diseases;
  • Chronic ear infections;
  • Ear fluid (otitis media);
  • The use of certain drugs, such as those used to treat neonatal infections, malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis and cancer;
  • Head or ear injuries;
  • Lots of noise, such as workplace noise from machines and explosions;
  • Entertainment is exposed to strong voices, such as prolonged use of personal audio equipment at high volume and frequent concerts, nightclubs, bars and sports events;
  • Aging, especially caused by sensory cell degeneration;
  • Wax or foreign body obstruction of the ear canal.
  • The most common cause of hearing loss in children is chronic otitis media.

    The impact of hearing loss

    Functional impact

    Hearing loss most affects the ability to communicate with others. Deaf children with deaf hearing loss can experience language dysfunction.

    Earless ears such as hearing loss and otitis media that have not been addressed can have a significant adverse effect on children's academic performance. Reciprocal rates for people with hearing loss tend to be higher and require more education assistance. The right accommodations are crucial to achieving the best possible learning outcomes, but not always available.

    Social and emotional impact

    Communicating with people can have a major impact on everyday life, leading to loneliness, isolation and frustration, especially for the elderly with hearing loss.

    Economic impact

    WHO estimates that hearing loss can not be treated, costing the world 750 billion U.S. dollars each year. This includes health sector costs (excluding the cost of hearing equipment), education support costs, productivity losses and social costs.

    In developing countries, children with hearing loss and deafness have little access to schooling. Adults with hearing loss also have higher unemployment. Even if a job is found, the proportion of people with hearing loss at a lower level in the workplace is higher than that of the average worker.

    Improving access to education and vocational rehabilitation services for hearing-impaired persons and raising public awareness, especially among employers, on the needs of people with hearing loss will help to reduce the unemployment rate among hearing-impaired persons.


    Overall, half of all hearing loss cases can be prevented through public health measures.

    In children under 15 years of age, 60% of hearing loss is due to preventable causes. This figure is higher in low- and middle-income countries (75%) than in high-income countries (49%). In general, preventable causes of hearing loss in children include:

  • Mumps, measles, rubella, meningitis, cytomegalovirus infections and chronic otitis media (31%);
  • Birth complications such as birth asphyxia, low birth weight, premature birth and jaundice (17%);
  • Ototoxic drugs for pregnant women and infants (4%);
  • Other (8%).
  • Some simple strategies for prevention of hearing loss are as follows:

  • Immunization of children against childhood diseases such as measles, meningitis, rubella and mumps;
  • Pregnancy before adolescent girls and women of childbearing age immunization, prevention of rubella;
  • Prevention of maternal cytomegalovirus infection through good personal hygiene; screening and treatment of syphilis and other infections in pregnant women;
  • Strengthen maternal and child health programs, including promoting safe delivery;
  • Follow ear health practices;
  • Otitis media screening in children with appropriate medical or surgical intervention;
  • Avoid the use of special drugs that may impair hearing unless prescribed by a qualified doctor and monitored;
  • Referral of high-risk young children (history of familial deafness, low birth weight, birth asphyxia, jaundice or meningitis), early assessment of hearing, and prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment when needed;
  • Reduce exposure to loud noise (in workplaces and recreational facilities) by raising awareness of risks; develop and enforce regulations; and encourage the use of personal protection devices such as earbuds, noise-canceling headphones and headphones.
  • Ear and hearing health care can be taken to prevent otitis media caused hearing loss. This issue can be properly addressed by early detection and adoption of appropriate medical or surgical interventions.

    Discover and manage

    Early detection and intervention are key to reducing the impact of hearing loss on child development and academic achievement. Early detection and management of infant hearing screening can improve language development and academic development in infants and young children. Deaf children should be given the opportunity to learn sign language with their own families.

    Conducting pre-school, school-based and occupational ear infections and hearing tests is an effective way to detect and manage hearing loss as early as possible.

    Hearing impaired can use hearing aids, such as hearing aids, implanted cochlear implants, and other assistive devices. Speech therapy, hearing rehabilitation and other related services are also good for them. However, the production of hearing aids worldwide can only meet less than 10% of global demand and less than 3% of developing country demand. In many low-income countries and regions, the lack of hearing aid installation and repair services even without batteries have become an obstacle. Producing affordable hearing aids and implantable cochlear implants throughout the world and providing convenient follow-up services will benefit many hearing loss recipients.

    Hearing loss can be learned by learning lip, using written or printed text and sign language communication. Sign language teaching is good for children with hearing loss, while subtitling and sign language interpretation for television programs help those with hearing loss gain access to information.

    Determining official national generic signatories and increasing the number of sign language interpreters is particularly helpful in improving access to sign language services. Encouraging the establishment of organizations and parents and family support groups for hearing loss and strengthening human rights legislation can also help to ensure that persons with hearing loss are better integrated into society.

    Better Hearing Cnter response

    Better Hearing Centers assists Member States in developing programs to include primary ear and hearing health care in the national primary health care system. Better Hearing Cnter work includes:

  • Provide technical support to Member States in formulating and implementing national plans for hearing health;
  • Provide technical resources and guidance for health care workers in hearing health training;
  • Develop and disseminate recommendations on the main preventable causes of hearing loss;
  • Carry out publicity activities to raise awareness of the prevalence, etiology and impact of hearing loss, and increase awareness of the timing of prevention, detection and management;
  • Develop and disseminate evidence-based tools for effective advocacy;
  • Hold the annual World Hearing Day and encourage this opportunity to promote;
  • Establish partnerships to develop strong programs for hearing and health care, such as initiatives on affordable hearing aids, cochlear implants and other services;
  • Collect data on deafness and hearing loss and indicate the size and impact of the problem;
  • Promote the protection of hearing safety and reduce the risk of hearing loss caused by entertainment noise through Better Hearing Cnter Hearing Security Initiative;
  • Take measures to promote the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, including those with hearing loss and deafness, such as establishing community-based rehabilitation networks and programs.
  • Author's Bio: 

    In 1967 Larson and Ruth Hudson had the opportunity to open an office in hearing aids Kentucky. They moved to the city of Bowling Green where they opened a Beltone storefront office that primarily served Bowling Green and the surrounding counties utilizing in-home visits along with Free Online Hearing Test US service centers in local hotels.