Hearing loss isn't a condition you can see, but it's one that can have a big impact on a person's life. Here in Australia, an estimated one in six people have some type of hearing problem1 – you may even know someone who lives with hearing loss.
However, new research suggests that the number of people who suffer from a hearing impairment could be set to increase dramatically in the coming years. Here's what you should know, and how you can help to recognise the signs of hearing loss in yourself or a loved one.
The state of hearing loss around the world
Findings from new research by Johns Hopkins University are causing people around the world sit up and take notice. Conducted in the US, the study suggested that the number of Americans with hearing loss was set to almost double in the next few decades2.
By 2020, it's estimated that 15 per cent of adults aged 20 and over will have hearing loss. If the projections from the recent study are accurate, this percentage could rise to 23 per cent of adults by 2060 – encompassing 74 million people in America alone.
The researchers observed that the biggest jump would be in older adults, with as many as 67 per cent of people aged 70 years and over expected to suffer from hearing loss by 2060.
"Hearing loss is a major public health issue that will affect many more adults," lead author Dr Adele Goman told HealthDay News. "In order to address this issue, novel and cost-effective approaches to hearing health care are needed."3
Why is hearing loss becoming more prevalent?
Here in Australia, it appears that we aren't immune to the increasing prevalence of hearing loss. As noted by the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA), hearing loss is set to affect as many as one in four Australians by the year 2050, a trend attributed to our ageing population1.
However, older people aren't the only demographic contributing to the rise of hearing loss. Around the world, an estimated 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 35 are believed to be at risk of developing a hearing condition.4
"As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss," said Dr Etienne Krug, one of the directors at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO identified overexposure to high volumes of recreational noise as one of the leading culprits, and recommended limiting the volume on personal music devices as well as wearing earplugs at loud venues such as clubs and concerts.
Do I have hearing loss?
There are a number of signs that can signal the presence of a hearing difficulty. Speech can seem muffled, as if people are mumbling as they say their words, and you may find yourself constantly asking people to repeat themselves or to talk more slowly. This is often more noticeable in noisier environments, where you struggle to make out what others are saying over background noise.
In addition, you may find yourself frequently turning up the radio or TV, even though others can hear it well enough at a lower volume. If you, or someone you love display any of these tendencies, it might be time for a hearing check. To book your FREE* hearing test with AudioClinic, you can click here, or give us a call on 1800 940 984.
1Hearing Care Industry Association, About hearing loss. Accessed May, 2017.
2JAMA Network, Number of People in U.S. with Hearing Loss Expected to Nearly Double in Coming Decades. Accessed May, 2017.
3 HealthDay News, Hearing Loss May Double in United States by 2060. Accessed May, 2017.
4WHO, 1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss. Accessed April, 2017.