Risks and Burden of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a global public health issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 5% of the world’s population, or 430 million people, suffer from hearing loss. This figure includes 34 million children with hearing impairment. It is estimated that over 2.5 billion people will experience some degree of hearing loss, and nearly 700 million people will be affected by disabling hearing loss requiring hearing rehabilitation by 2050. About 1 billion cases can be avoided by proper preventive measures. Hearing threshold higher than 35 decibels in the healthy ear is considered disabling hearing loss.

Exposure to numerous factors throughout different periods of life can be associated with higher risks of hearing loss. Genetic factors, intrauterine infections, childbirth complications, and perinatal diseases increase the risk of hearing impairment during prenatal and perinatal periods. Chronic ear infections, meningitis, and other infections during childhood can lead to hearing loss. Regarding adulthood and older age, the main risk factors include cardiovascular disorders, neurological diseases, endocrinopathies, age-related hearing cell degeneration, loud noise exposure, and smoking.

Untreated hearing loss significantly impacts different aspects of an individual’s life. It is associated with poor communication, speech difficulties, social isolation, stress, and low academic and job performance. It also increases the economic and social burden.

Importance of World Hearing Day

Each year, on March 3, World Hearing Day is celebrated across the globe to raise hearing health awareness. The WHO decides a theme for each year and hosts an event. The WHO prepares numerous awareness and educational materials, including brochures, posters, presentations, and flyers. These materials are disseminated among stakeholders such as policymakers, local and country government bodies, scientists, and social activists. Audiologists are encouraged to educate patients to immediately check their hearing when they experience minor hearing issues. World Hearing Day has recently gained immense recognition, and many partners are joining the initiative. Various activities to promote hearing take place worldwide.  

World Hearing Day is a campaign that aims to improve hearing care by sharing evidence-based information on hearing loss and its prevention. This day gives a significant opportunity to highlight the importance of early detection of hearing loss by screenings and interventions to prevent further hearing damage and improve access to hearing care.     

History of World Hearing Day

The WHO first celebrated World Hearing Day in 2007. Initially, it was known as International Ear Care Day. In 2016, the name was changed to World Hearing Day. After deciding a specific theme for the year, the WHO develops educational resources in several languages. Here are the themes from recent years:

2023: “Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality.”

2022: “To hear for life, listen with care.”

2021: “Hearing Care for All.”

2020: “Hearing for life. Don’t let hearing loss limit you.”

World Hearing Day 2024

The theme for World Hearing Day 2024 is “Let’s make ear and hearing care a reality for all!”. The campaign will address the problems arising from societal misconceptions and stigmatizing mindsets achieved by raising awareness and sharing information among the public and health care providers. The objectives are to clear the common misunderstandings related to hearing health among the target population, share scientific evidence for changing the public perceptions of hearing problems, and engage countries and society in overcoming the stigma and misconceptions as a primary step to ensure equitable access to hearing care.










March 04, 2024 — Official Linner

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