The number of Swedes with some degree of hearing damage continues to increase, and currently includes 17.2 percent of Sweden's total population, or about 1,3 million people. This represents a significant increase over the reported 14 percent prevalence in 2006.
The alarming numbers were published in the 2009 Annual Report of Sweden's national association for hearing impaired people, HRF. The reported data refer to the adult population, aged 16 years and older.
HRF offered no specific explanation for the reported increase in the incidence of hearing loss but speculated that noise and other environmental factors may be a big part of the explanation.
According to the report, hearing loss is far from afflicting only the elderly. Many hearing impaired Swedes are of working age. 55 percent of the Swedes with hearing damage are in the 16-64-year age group. In the working population, aged between 20 and 64 years, 10.9 percent reported some degree of hearing loss. In the 35-44 year age group one in ten reported a hearing problem. The reported prevalence increased to one in five in the 55-64 year age group and one in three among those aged between 65 and 74 years.
More women with hearing problems
Nineteen percent of Swedish males and 15 percent of Swedish females reported that they suffer from hearing loss. Within genders the number of hearing impaired women is catching up with the number of hearing impaired men. Currently 44 percent of those with hearing damage are females and 56 percent are males. One reason for this trend may be that increasing numbers of predominantly male workplaces are requiring workers to wear hearing protection, whereas predominantly female professions, such as nursery school teachers, are offered no such protection.
About 367,000 Swedes, or about one in three with hearing damage, use hearing aids. HRF estimated that about 50 - 60 percent of those with hearing damage need hearing aids. 56 percent of those who receive hearing aids, wear aids in both ears.
Source: HRF Annual Report 2009, www.hrf.se