28 November 2011

Hearing loss - a great disease burden, but very little research carried out.

Hearing loss affects more and more people. In 2031, 14.5 million Britons will be affected. WHO says that hearing loss will be one of the top 10 disease burdens in many countries and will have a great social and economic impact. Despite this, 40 times less money is used on research into hearing loss than on cardiovascular conditions per person affected.

Today, 10 million people in the UK are affected by hearing loss. In 2031, this figure will increase by more than 40% to 14.5 million people, according to the British organisation ”Action on Hearing Loss” (formerly RNID).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that by 2030 adult onset hearing loss will be in the top 10 disease burdens in the UK and other high or middle income countries, above cataracts and diabetes.

According to Action on Hearing Loss, hearing loss is therefore a potential health crisis that we cannot ignore. It is therefore worth noting that a lot less money is used on research into hearing loss than for example cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.

40 times less

In the Action on Hearing Loss report, “Hearing matters”, it is stated that in 2010 in the UK, £49.71 was used on research into cardiovascular conditions for every person affected, while £21.31 was spent for every person with diabetes on research into that condition. In 2010, £1.34 was used on research into hearing and hearing loss for every person affected in the UK. In other words, 40 times more money is used on research into cardiovascular conditions than hearing loss. In vision research, £14.21 is used per person on those suffering from vision problems.

Significant costs

Innumerable studies from around the world have documented, that hearing loss has significant personal consequences and social and economic costs and impacts both employment and education. 

Research by Action on Hearing Loss has shown that even at times of low unemployment, people with severe and profound levels of hearing loss were more than four times more likely to be unemployed than the general population. Hearing loss also more than doubles the risk of depression in older people and children with hearing loss have an increased risk of mental health problems.

Source: Hearing Matters, Action on Hearing Loss, 2011

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