How many people are affected by deafness and hearing loss?

According to research, the number of people with hearing loss is steadily increasing. Over 5% of the world’s population or 466 million people has disabling hearing loss. Estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.

Hearing loss and deafness

People who are unable to hear as appropriately as someone with normal hearing – thresholds of hearing around 25 dB or better in both ears – considered to have hearing loss. Hearing loss is of three types that are mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Either one ear or both ears are lead will have difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds.

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‘Hard of hearing’ generally refers to the people with mild to severe hearing loss. They usually communicate with the spoken language moreover can have the benefit of the hearing aid, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices as well as captioning. People having more significant hearing losses can have benefited from cochlear implants.

‘Deaf’ people in most of the cases are suffering from profound hearing loss, which intends to have no hearing or very little. Most of the time they use sign language for communication.

Causes of hearing loss and deafness

Due to hearing loss and deafness, they may be born or acquired.

Congenital causes

Congenital causes may lead to hearing loss being present at or acquired soon after birth, such as:

  • Low birth weight
  • Birth asphyxia (a decrease of oxygen at the time of birth)
  • Severe jaundice in the neonatal period, which can damage the hearing nerve in the newborn.

Acquired causes

There may be hearing loss at any age for acquired reasons, such as:

  • Chronic ear infections.
  • Collection of fluid in the ear (otitis media).
  • Injury to the head or ear.
  • Wax or foreign bodies blocked the ear canal.
  • Machinery and explosions such as extreme noisy, commercial noise.

Facts about people are affected by deafness and hearing loss

  • About 466 million people around the world are suffering from disabling hearing loss, and about 34 million of them are children.
  • Scientists expect that around 2050 over 900 million people will be having disabling hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss can be the result of genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections. It can also cause by consuming particular drugs, exposure of ears to excessive noise, moreover aging.
  • 60% of hearing the loss in childhood is because of preventable causes.
  • 1.1 billion people of the young age between 12–35 years are generally exposed to the risk of hearing loss due to exposure to the loud noise.
  • Unaddressed hearing loss can cause the annual global cost of US$ 750 billion. Interventions for preventing, identifying and addressing hearing loss are cost-effective.
  • People suffering from hearing loss benefit if its identification is done at the early stage; use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices; captioning and sign language; and other forms of educational and social support.

Impact of hearing loss

Functional impact

One of the main effects of hearing loss is on the ability to communicate with others. There is often a delay in the development of speech-language in children with unhealthy hearing loss.

The social and emotional impact

Exposure from communication can have a significant impact on everyday life, isolation, and frustration, especially in old people with hearing loss.

Economic impact

In developing countries, children with hearing loss and deafness rarely receive schooling. Unemployment rates are very high in adults with hearing loss. Among those who are employed, a high percentage of people with hearing loss are in the lower grade of employment compared to the general staff.


Hearing loss is one of the world’s most common health concern. Early intervention and detection are important to reduce that impact of hearing loss on a child’s development and educational achievements.

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