Hearing loss IMPACTS 16% of THE FRENCH POPULATION. IT’S time to ACT!
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 billion people will have hearing loss by 2050.
Those impacted tend to see the situation as inevitable or taboo, given the persistently negative perceptions in our society. Yet even when slight, hearing loss not only affects individual’s physical comfort but also has proven consequences on their cognitive performance and mental health.
AGIR POUR L’AUDITION is a leading association, soon to become a charitable foundation, in the field of hearing health (1).
HEARING LOSS KEY FIGURES
Hearing loss: a disability impacting 16% of the French population
According to WHO, 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss (2). In France, an estimated 10 million people are concerned, making this the most common disability. While all age groups are affected, hearing loss increases sharply with age, impacting 20% of 50-year-olds and 75% of over-70s (3). When untreated, hearing loss can represent a major cause of dependency by further isolating elderly people and reinforcing certain pathologies at the physiological and psychological levels.
WHO is also concerned about noise-induced hearing loss among young people in middle- and high-income countries (4). On February 27, 2015, it reported that teenagers and young adults were placing themselves at risk, due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events. WHO estimates that 50% of young people are exposed to dangerous noise levels and recommends prevention measures to limit the spread of hearing problems among young people.
Solutions ill-suited to the issues
Left untreated, hearing loss has major repercussions on people’s personal and work lives, as well as their health, compromising language acquisition in infants and reducing the ability to communicate in all age groups. Given the significant social and financial consequences of this major difficulty, hearing loss requires early diagnosis and treatment: the earlier the treatment, the more efficient the patient’s rehabilitation.
Yet in France, hearing loss remains misunderstood, poorly accepted and underestimated, and the solutions offered ill-suited to meeting the challenges. While cases of profound or total deafness are now treated, especially in children, other types of hearing loss (mild, moderate or severe), which may still be disabling, are all too often neglected. It is worth noting that 5 million people may require compensatory strategies for hearing loss (hearing aids, stimulation exercises and listening equipment).
The percentage of people with hearing aids in France is based on declarations by a sample of the French population in different research. Following its “disability-health” report, the Ministry of Health’s department of research, studies, evaluation and statistics (DREES) estimated that 20% of French people wore hearing aids (5), while the 2015 EuroTrak survey conducted for the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) placed this figure at 34.1% of the French population (6).
- French government decree, 10 February 2015, published in the Official Journal
- “Deafness and hearing loss” fact sheet no. 300, WHO, updated March 2015
- Étude quantitative sur le handicap auditif à partir de l’enquête “Handicap-Santé (quantitative study on hearing disabilities based on the “Handicap-Santé” report), French Ministry of Health’s department of research, studies, evaluation and statistics (DREES), August 2014, p.18
- Press release, WHO, February 27, 2015
- “Handicap-Santé” survey 2008-2009, “ménages et institutions” (households and institutions) section,
- DREES 2015 EuroTrak survey on hearing and hearing loss, European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA)