Topic Papers on Hearing Loss

The Hearing Health Forum EU has produced various topic papers on hearing loss. The goal is to increase awareness about hearing loss, related comorbidities, the economic impact, and the importance of early detection.

All position papers summarize the most important hearing health facts and provide policy recommendations. Policymakers can use those papers to set national policy and to prioritise ear and hearing health on the European agenda.

Economic Impact of Hearing Loss

Two-thirds of adults living with hearing loss do not receive treatment in the EU which results in yearly costs in terms of productivity loss and lost quality of life of €185 billion in the EU. People with untreated hearing loss are at higher risk of being unemployed, earning less, suffering from comorbidities, and socially isolating themselves compared to their normal hearing peers.

Mental Health and Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss contributes to social withdrawal, loneliness, and depression. A study revealed that the odds of experiencing loneliness were 2.2 times higher among older adults with hearing loss compared to hearing peers. It is proven that cost-effective hearing interventions such as hearing aids and cochlear implants show significant benefits connected to mental well-being.

Importance of Hearing Screening

Systematic hearing tests across a population are the best way of breaking down barriers, and identifying and treating those with untreated hearing loss in order to avoid the long-term effects. Universal newborn hearing screening is the minimum standard of care in paediatric hearing health. The area that requires vast improvement is systematic hearing screening programmes for the over 55s.

Inclusive Approach to Europe's Hearing Health Challenges

Given the imposing impact of untreated hearing loss on the economy and individuals, an inclusive approach is required. Part of this must be inclusive access to ear and hearing care for all European citizens, and the promotion of social inclusion and participation. Promoting integrated hearing health is cost-effective as the WHO estimates that $1 invested can deliver a return of $16.

Prioritising Hearing Care in Europe's Ageing Population

Hearing loss is the number one modifiable risk factor for dementia. The WHO estimates that 1.5 billion people worldwide, or nearly 20% of the population, are living with disabling hearing loss, and this figure is expected to increase to 2.5 billion by 2050. The data for those living with dementia are equally as stark – globally 55 million people are living with the disease, at a cost of US$ 1.3 trillion. The number of people affected is expected to almost triple by 20507. These rapid increases are a clear and early warning.

Hearing Loss and Cognition

In Europe, one-third of people over 60 years are living with disabling hearing loss. By 2050, the global number of people with hearing loss will double. The association between ageing and hearing loss is evident. Therefore, national hearing screening programmes and treatment options are proven to help avoid or minimize comorbidities, social isolation, and financial costs in Europe.

You can download all topic papers on hearing loss as well as other reports and infographics in our Download section.