In the EU, untreated hearing loss costs 185 billion Euro–each year. –hear-it.org
A new scientific report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, concludes that untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 185 billion Euros (US$211 billion) in the EU each year. This represents 8,200 Euros (US$9335) each year per person with an untreated disabling hearing loss.
The detailed findings and conclusions in the report will be presented at a lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on the March 6 in connection with the WHO World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March.
The report was carried out for the non-profit organization, hear-it AISBL, by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield with the assistance of Professor Mark Atherton at Brunel University in London. In 2006, Professor Bridget Shield compiled the first report for hear-it AISBL, “Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of hearing Impairment.”
How they arrived at the 185 billion Euro figure. According to the report, lower quality of life due to disabling hearing loss costs the EU 130 billion Euros (US$148 billion) each year. Lost productivity in society due to a higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss costs 55 billion Euros ($63 billion) each year in the EU. In total, this is 185 billion Euros. The cost does not cover extra health care costs caused by hearing loss. A disabling hearing loss is defined by the Global Burden of Disease research group (GBD) as a hearing loss of 35 dB or greater.
In Europe as a whole—including non-EU countries—untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 216 billion Euros (US$246 billion) each year, says the researchers.
The report documents that the use of hearing aids and other hearing solutions improves health and increases quality of life. It also documents that people with an untreated, disabling hearing loss are at greater risk of social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia, while people who treat their hearing loss do not experience a higher risk than people without hearing loss.
There are 34.4 million people with a disabling hearing loss (35 dB or greater) in the EU. More than 22.6 million are not treated for their disabling hearing loss as only around 1 in 3 in Europe with a disabling hearing loss use hearing aids or other hearing solutions. This is more than the combined population of Austria, Finland, Ireland, and Lithuania. With a steadily aging population who live longer and with an earlier onset of hearing loss due to increased noise exposure, this growth will increase even further in the years to come, warns Hear-it.
A meta study. The report, “Hearing Loss–Numbers and Costs”, is a meta study which has analyzed and compared hundreds of scientific studies and papers in the last two decades about the prevalence and the consequences of hearing loss and the use and benefits of hearing aids, according to the organization.
“The scientific report clearly demonstrates that untreated hearing loss is a major health issue and that untreated hearing loss has a huge economic and social impact on our society,” said Secretary General Kim Ruberg, hear-it AISBL, on the organization’s website. “It also documents that checking your hearing and treating hearing loss pays, both for the individual and for society.”
Check your hearing. World Hearing Day is held by the WHO on the 3rd of March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2019 is “Check your hearing”.
“If you think you might have a hearing loss, my best advice is to get your hearing checked,” says Ruberg. “You can start by checking your hearing using the WHO “Check your hearing” app, or test your hearing online at www.hear-it.org. But if you suspect that you have hearing problems my best advice is that you get a real hearing test carried out by a hearing professional,” says Ruberg.