The future of hearing loss in Australia is in a dire state. According to a study conducted by the Hearing Care Industry Association last year, hearing loss is estimated to affect 7.8 million people by 2060, which is equivalent to one in every five people. Furthermore, the report titled ‘The Social and Economic Cost of Hearing Health in Australia’ suggests that over a third of adult hearing loss cases are preventable. Here are the main findings you should know about the current and future state of hearing loss in Australia.
Key statistics about the future of hearing loss in Australia
The Hearing Care Industry Association’s report found that 3.6 million people in Australia are currently affected by hearing loss, which consists of 2.2 million men and 1.4 million women; this accounts for 14.5% of the Australian population. This statistic is expected to more than double to 7.8 million in 2060.
Another alarming finding is that 49% of childhood hearing loss is preventable, as is 37% of adult hearing loss. The most common form of preventable hearing loss in adults is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which mostly affects adults of working age through occupational NIHL, commonly in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and construction. However, recreation NIHL is also on the rise due to young people’s frequent exposure to loud music. In a similar study in 2015, the World Health Organisation estimated that 1.1 billion young people (which encompasses the 12-35 years old demographic) could be at risk of hearing loss due to dangerous listening habits.
Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of hearing loss increases with age, with most men expected to have at least mild hearing loss by the age of 65 years old and women by age 90 years old. This is because the impact of noise is cumulative and can increase your chances of hearing deterioration later in life, even after the exposure has stopped.
Essentially, hearing degeneration from noise exposure early in life makes the ears more vulnerable to the effects of ageing.
What can be done for the future of hearing loss in Australia?
As a potential intervention for the alarming predictions about the future of hearing loss in Australia, the Hearing Care Industry Association proposes a free hearing screening program that provides hearing assessments for people aged 50 years old and over.
The association’s second proposal is free hearing aids for both Australians under 26 years of age and pensioners and veterans, but not to Australians of working age. Evidence from the United Kingdom suggests that providing hearing aids can reduce the gap in employment between people with hearing loss and people with hearing by approximately two thirds. Extrapolating from that evidence, extending the hearing aid voucher program to unemployed Australians with hearing loss could account for up to 48,000 people gaining jobs.
Organise your next hearing test with The Art of Hearing
As the prevalence of hearing loss in Australia is expected to dramatically rise, it’s more important than ever to get serious about your hearing health. At The Art of Hearing, our Perth audiologists aim to not only improve your ability to hear, but to improve your overall quality of life. We are determined to help you find a hearing solution that is tailored to your individual needs and lifestyle. Contact our Perth hearing clinic today or organise your next hearing assessment online.