Together we can bring hearing loss higher on the political agenda

Facts about Hearing Loss

    • There are 196 million people living with hearing loss in Europe

    • Around the world over 1,5 billion people live with hearing loss – this will rise to 2.5 billion people by 2050

    • Reduced quality of life (QoL) costs Europe €67 billion per year

    • The EU loses €149 billion from reduced productivity, under-employment, or unemployment of adults living with untreated hearing loss

    • Around 20% of women and 30% of men in Europe will live with hearing loss by the age of 70. (Shield, 2019, WHO, 2021; Lamb et al, 2016, hear-it, 2019)

You might also be interested in reading more about hearing loss and cognitive decline in adults.

Hearing Loss Requires Immediate Action

Hearing loss can affect the lives of both children and adults, as well as their families, friends and colleagues. When hearing loss remains untreated it can remove a person’s connection to their loved ones.

Through national policy changes that supports early detection and treatment, we can minimize the impact felt by millions of people worldwide. Did you know that by taking action to treat hearing loss it’s possible to reduce a person’s risk of dementia by over 8%? In children, we can also positively effect their speech and language development, educational achievement and future career.

You can read more about hearing loss in adults, hearing loss in children, and the costs to society. We regularly update our website to bring you the latest information, key facts, and infographics.


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Europe’s Ageing Society

Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition for adults in Europe, with proven links to dementia, depression, and increased health and social care needs. Yet adults with hearing loss may not be treated for decades. An inability to participate in conversation is reported to lead to much reduced independence, social isolation, and withdrawal.

Hearing Loss in Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 32 million children worldwide are born with or develop sensorineural deafness in their early childhood. If denied access to treatment, a child’s development of speech, language, and cognitive skills is greatly affected. Research suggests that educational, career, and economic opportunities are also much reduced compared to their hearing peers.

Costs to Society

The significant burden that hearing loss places on individual EU citizens and European health and social systems has been proven to be vastly reduced or even nullified with effective treatment. Studies suggest that significant €bn savings can be made with proactive investment and policy change.

Facts and Figures

  • Hearing loss is on the rise

    The World Health Organization. Deafness and hearing loss. Available at: (October 2018)

  • Hearing Range

    © MED-EL

  • Life without Hearing Solution

    The World Health Organization. Deafness and hearing loss. Available at: (October 2018)

    Bidadi, S., Nejadkazem, M. and Naderpour, M. (2008). The relationship between chronic otitis media–induced hearing loss and the acquisition of social skills. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 139(5), pp.665-670.

    Gopinath, B., Hickson, L., Schneider, J., McMahon, C., Burlutsky, G., Leeder, S. and Mitchell, P. (2012). Hearing-impaired adults are at increased risk of experiencing emotional distress and social engagement restrictions five years later. Age and Ageing, 41(5), pp.618-623.

    Jopling, K. (2017). Hearing Loss and older people. Royal Voluntary Service, p.12. Available at: hearing_loss_and_older_people.pdf (October 2018)

    Raine, C., Atkinson, H., Strachan, D. and Martin, J. (2016). Access to cochlear implants: Time to reflect.Cochlear Implants International, 17(sup1), pp.42-46.

  • People over 65 years

    The World Health Organization. Deafness and hearing loss. Available at: (October 2018)

    Chien W, Lin FR. Prevalence of hearing aid use among older adults in the United States. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172:292–293

    Special Report on Hearing in Older Adults (2018). Available at: awareness-and-corporate-communication/special-reports/special-report-2—older-adults/ special-report-2-hearing-in-older-adults_engl.pdf?sfvrsn=4a36c847_14
    (October 2018)

  • How to Recognise the Symptoms

    © MED-EL

  • Childhood Hearing Loss

    The World Health Organization. Deafness and hearing loss. Available at: (October 2018)

    Hearring Report (2014). Switched on for Life. Available at: (October 2018)

  • Hearing Impairment Impacts Children‘s Lives and Society

    Hearring Report (2014). Switched on for Life. Available at: (October 2018)

  • How to Recognise the Symptoms in Children

    © MED-EL

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes hearing loss?


There are many causes for hearing loss over the life span, covering all types and severities of hearing loss. Here is a list of the most common ones: Genetic inheritance; Maternal infections during pregnancy, such as rubella or cytomegalovirus (CMV); Viral infections such as mumps, measles or varicella zoster virus; Infections of the outer, middle or inner ear; Ototoxic drugs; Excessive cerumen; Injuries to the ear, head or brain; Acoustic trauma; Noise-induced hearing loss; Age-related hearing loss.

How prevalent is hearing loss in the EU?


In the European Region, around 190 million individuals experience some degree of hearing loss, accounting for approximately 20% of the overall population. This means, 1 in 5 people in this region have some hearing loss or deafness. By 2050, 1 in 4 people are projected to have hearing loss, equivalent to 236 million European citizens (WHO, 2021).  

What are the economic and societal impacts of hearing loss in the EU?


If hearing loss is left untreated, the yearly costs in terms of lost productivity value amount to € 149 billion; € 67 billion are spent p.a. due to reduced quality of life; € 8,200 additional costs arise per person p.a. due to untreated hearing loss; Working-age adults with untreated hearing loss more frequently work in low-wage jobs, face higher unemployment rates and early retirement; Untreated hearing loss is also associated with an increased hospitalisation, diminished quality of life and growing risks of co-morbidities, such as: Cognitive decline including dementia (further research here) Mental ill-health including depression and anxiety Social isolation and loneliness

Are cochlear implants cost effective?


International studies have repeatedly proven the cost-effectiveness of cochlear implants compared to hearing-impaired people who qualify for a cochlear implant but who use hearing aids or no hearing device at all. This holds true for unilateral and bilateral cochlear implantation. A study looking at nearly 100 cochlear implant users found that after being implanted, their employment rate had improved by 11% while 31% saw their income increase (D’Haese, 2016). Considering wider economic factors, the net cost saving to society for paediatric cochlear implantation is over $53,000 per child over a lifetime (Cheng, 2000). Cheng, A.K., et al., Cost-utility analysis of the cochlear implant in children. Jama, 2000. 284(7): p. 850-6 D’Haese, P., How Can Innovative Technologies Improve the Quality of Live for People Suffering from Hearing Loss? Eurohealth International, 2016. 22

What measures can be taken to improve access to cochlear implants?


Raise awareness of the importance of hearing health among political stakeholders, highlighting the social and economic disadvantages for not treating severe-profound hearing loss appropriately Promote the need for robust national hearing health strategies including diagnosis, rehabilitation, service, and maintenance. National healthcare budgets must make funds available for treatment and reduce long waiting lists.

What are the links between hearing loss and dementia?


A growing body of evidence recognizes the elimination of potentially modifiable risk factors which could prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases. The primary modifiable risk factor is treating hearing loss in midlife, which reduces the risk by 8%. This is followed by depression (4%) and isolation in later life (4%), both of which frequently accompany untreated hearing loss. Livingston G. et al, Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet. 2020 8-14 August; 396(10248): 413–446. Myrstad C. et al, Hearing impairment and risk of dementia in The HUNT Study (HUNT4 70+): a Norwegian cohort study. EClinicalMedicine 2023. Jiang F et al, Association between hearing aid use and all-cause and cause-specific dementia: an analysis of the UK Biobank cohort. Lancet Public Health. 2023 May;8(5):e329-e338.

How does hearing loss affect quality of life?


Quality of life is defined by the presence of physical, mental and social well-being in addition to the absence of disease. Studies have shown that people with hearing loss experience adverse conditions such as social isolation, depression as well as other comorbidities commonly associated with hearing loss. Reduced social connectivity, which is strongly linked to the inability to hear and communicate with others, is a key confounding factor in quality of life. Hearing loss treatment is instrumental in regaining independence and enhancing communication, and consequently, the quality of life for people with hearing loss. This can be attributed to improved social (re)integration, but also to factors like broader education and professional opportunities. The reveals that almost all European hearing device users describe improved quality of life with their hearing treatment. 80% state that their hearing aids are better than expected and that they should have gotten their hearing devices sooner due.