In their first World Report on Hearing published earlier this year, the WHO writes that the sense of hearing is a key aspect of functioning throughout all stages of life. And that hearing loss, unless it is appropriately addressed, impacts society as a whole.
1.5 billion people with hearing loss
According to the report, hearing loss currently affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, of whom 430 million have moderate or higher levels of hearing loss in the better hearing ear. This means that 430 million people globally require rehabilitation services for their hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be avoided
Factors that impact hearing capacity range from birth-related adverse events and ear infections to viral infections, noise exposure, ototoxic medicines, and lifestyle choices. Many of these factors can be prevented throughout our lives by following good ear hygiene, avoiding loud sounds, and adopting healthy lifestyles, the WHO writes.
Negative impacts of untreated hearing loss
The report states that if hearing loss is left unaddressed, it can have a negative impact on many aspects of life: communication, the development of language and speech in children, cognition, education, employment, mental health and interpersonal relationships.
The report can be downloaded here from the WHO website.