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Untreated hearing loss costs UK £25.5b per year, new report claims

A new report suggested that untreated hearing loss in the UK costs around £25.5 billion each year.

Around 3m people across the UK are thought to live with an untreated hearing loss – a cost of £8,500 per person. The costs relate to lower quality of life and higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss.

The findings and conclusions feature in a new report called ‘Hearing Loss – Number and Costs’ which was presented to the European Parliament in Brussels earlier this month.

The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA), working in partnership with its European counterpart EHIMA and who has published the findings, has shared the UK data of this global report to highlight the very real cost to society of untreated hearing loss.

Lower quality of life due to disabling hearing loss in the UK costs £16.5 billion each year. Lost productivity in the UK due to higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss costs £9 billion each year. In total, this is £25.5 billion. The cost does not cover extra health care costs caused by hearing loss.

In the EU, untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 185 billion Euros each year. A disabling hearing loss is defined by the Global Burden of Disease research group (GBD) as a hearing loss greater than 35dB.

The report documents that the use of hearing aids and other hearing solutions improves health and increases quality of life. It also highlights that people with an untreated, disabling hearing loss are at greater risk of social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia, while people who treat their hearing loss do not experience a higher risk than people without hearing loss.

Paul Surridge, BIHIMA Chairman, said: “BIHIMA welcomes this scientific report that chimes with much of our organisation’s campaigning work over the past few years to raise public awareness about hearing loss and halt its dramatic economic and social impact on our society. The report clearly demonstrates that untreated hearing loss is a major health issue and we call on government to recognise this and support early identification and intervention and the valuable role that hearing instruments play in providing a solution, both for the individual and for society.”

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, is carried out for hear-it AISBL by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield, Brunel University in London with the assistance of Professor Mark Atherton, Brunel University, London. In 2006, Professor Bridget Shield compiled the first report for hear-it AISBL: “Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of hearing Impairment”. Download it here.