A report released today shows that around 22.6 million people in the EU live with an untreated, disabling hearing loss – 3 million of which are in the UK.

Untreated, disabling hearing loss in Europe (including non-EU countries) costs 216 billion Euros each year.  Untreated hearing loss in the UK costs £25.5 billion each year, a cost to society of £8,500 for every person with a disabling hearing. The costs are related to lower quality of life and higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss.

The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) is sharing a new, extensive scientific report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, written by British Professor Bridget Shield. The report was presented at a lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on the 6th of March in connection with the WHO World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March.

Professor Emerita Bridget Shield said “The report shows that hearing loss represents a very large cost to society in terms of reduced quality of life and lost productivity. It is therefore important, for the sake of the hard of hearing individuals and for society as a whole, that hearing loss is identified early, and appropriate treatment and support provided.”

There are 4.5 million people with a disabling hearing loss (>35 dB) in the UK. Around 3 million are not treated for their disabling hearing loss as only around one in three in Europe with a disabling hearing loss use hearing aids. With a steadily aging population who live longer and 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.

(BIHIMA) works in partnership with its European counterpart EHIMA and Hear-it AISBL, who has published the findings. “BIHIMA welcomes this scientific report that chimes with much of our organisation’s campaigning work over the past few years to raise public awareness about hearing loss and halt its dramatic economic and social impact on our society”, says BIHIMA Chairman, Paul Surridge. “The report clearly demonstrates that untreated hearing loss is a major health issue and we call on government to recognise this and support early identification and intervention and the valuable role that hearing instruments play in providing a solution, both for the individual and for society.”

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, was carried out for hear-it AISBL by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield, Brunel University, London with the assistance of Professor Mark Atherton, Brunel University, London. In 2006, Professor Bridget Shield compiled the first report for hear-it AISBL: “Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of hearing Impairment”.

Download the full report here.


Notes for editors:

– BIHIMA represents the hearing instrument manufacturers of Britain and Ireland, working in partnership with other professional, trade, regulatory and consumer organisations within the health care and charitable sectors. We raise consumer awareness about the latest hearing technology, and aim to influence government and policy makers to improve the lives of people with hearing difficulties.

– For further information visit www.bihima.com