To mark World Hearing Day 2018, a lunch debate was held on 6 March at the European Parliament in Brussels, bringing together key researchers and policy makers in the sector. The experts discussed the World Health Organisation’s chosen theme of “Hearing the Future”, with particular reference to Europe which is facing the rapidly increasing health issue of untreated hearing loss, largely due to its ageing population.

Many important contributions were brought by leading experts in the field, including Bridget Shield who is about to publish her 6 yearly study into the economic impact of hearing loss – research which is funded by our European counterpart EHIMA – with the new UK data set to be released at the upcoming BIHIMA conference on 11-12 May. Professor Shield gave a hard-hitting preview into her latest research, assessing that hearing loss will cost over 500 billion euros in the EU each year, due to impaired quality of life and lost productivity (this is on top of the healthcare costs associated with hearing loss).

 

Professor Hélène Amieva also offered an insight into her recently published significant longitudinal study (which BIHIMA reported on earlier this month) which assessed 3,800 elderly people over a period of 25 years and found an increased risk of disability and dementia in those with hearing loss, and also a greater risk of depression in men with hearing loss. “We compared the trajectories of ageing in three groups of people: elderly people without hearing loss, elderly people with hearing loss, and elderly people with hearing loss but using hearing aids,” said Professor Amieva when interviewed at the lunch debate. The result is absolutely clear and speaks volumes for the important role played by the hearing technology sector in alleviating the burden of hearing loss on society: “People using hearing aids do not exhibit this increased risk of developing disability or dementia”.

The following video provides further insights from the event at the European Parliament…