Understanding Hearing Loss

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Key facts

A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing – hearing thresholds of 25 dB or better in both ears – is said to have hearing loss. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. It can affect one ear or both ears, and leads to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds.

  • Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss (1), and 34 million of these are children. It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.
  • 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.
  • 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.
  • Unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$ 750 billion. Interventions to prevent, identify and address hearing loss are cost-effective and can bring great benefit to individuals.
  • People with hearing loss benefit from early identification; use of hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive devices; captioning and sign language; and other forms of educational and social support.

Getting the basic facts on hearing loss signs, causes, and treatments can help you better understand this common problem. For more in-depth answers and analysis, please visit our clinic and speak with one of our trained hearing care professionals.​

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