Increasing numbers of Swedes under the age of 65 years struggle with hearing problems. About 60 percent of all hearing impaired people in Sweden are of working age.
The number of people younger than retirement age with hearing loss in Sweden has increased by 9 percent since 1996, according to data published in the 2005 annual report from Hörselsskadades Riksförbund, the national Swedish association of hearing impaired people. Overall, more than 13 percent of Swedes aged between 16 and 84 years suffer from hearing loss.
Viewed over a longer period of time, a marked increase is seen in the prevalence of hearing impairment in younger age groups. Among those aged between 34 and 44 years about 8 percent suffer from hearing problems of varying severity. This is a doubling over the 15 years since the early 1990s.
Other studies indicate that the increases are related to increases in daily noise levels from music and other sources during leisure times, for instance.
Greatest increase among women
For the first time ever, women have overtaken the men with respect to hearing loss prevalence. In the 20-54 year age group 8.1 percent of the women and 7.6 percent of the men were found to suffer from hearing problems. This represents a two-fold increase among the women between 1984 and 2003.
The reason for the increased disparity between men and women is unknown. However, one explanation may be the increasing communication demands in almost all areas of the modern workplace, making the consequences of a hearing loss more obvious.
Source: Hörselsskadades Riksförbund, Annual Report, 2005, www.hrf.se
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