Around 3 million people in the United Kingdom live with an untreated, disabling hearing loss, which costs the UK a shocking £25.5 billion each year. This is a cost to society of £8,500 for every person with a disabling hearing loss each year. The costs are related to lower quality of life and higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss.

The detailed findings and conclusions in a new report “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, will be presented at a lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on the 6 of March in connection with the WHO World Hearing Day on the 3 of March.

The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA), working in partnership with its European counterpart EHIMA and who has published the findings, is sharing the UK data of this global report to highlight the very real cost to society of untreated hearing loss.

Lower quality of life due to disabling hearing loss in the UK costs £16.5 billion each year. Lost productivity in the UK due to higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss costs £9 billion each year. In total, this is £25.5 billion. The cost does not cover extra health care costs caused by hearing loss.

In the EU, untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 185 billion Euros each year. A disabling hearing loss is defined by the Global Burden of Disease research group (GBD) as a hearing loss greater than 35dB.

The report documents that the use of hearing aids and other hearing solutions improves health and increases quality of life. It also highlights 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 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 or other hearing solutions. With a steadily ageing 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.

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, is a meta study which has analysed and compared hun dreds of scientific studies and papers in the last two decades about the prevalence and consequences of hearing loss and the use and benefits of hearing aids.

“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.”

World Hearing Day is held by the WHO on the 3 of March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2019 is “Check your hearing”. Read more detail here.

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, is carried out for hear-it AISBL by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield, Brunel University in 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”.


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.