According to different studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), about five percent of the total population of the world suffers from some sort of hearing loss or deafness. When you think about it, even though 5 % may seem like a small figure, remember that it is 5% of the population of the earth. That roughly translates to about 360 million people around the world. The worst part about all of this is the fact that a majority of these 360 million people live in countries that can be termed as low-income countries and middle-income countries. It is very important to remember that these countries have healthcare systems that are much worse than that of the US. These countries also have a far less equitable distribution of healthcare, and many of those suffering cannot get access to the right kind of treatment. This is indeed a tragedy. While hearing loss cannot be cured outright, it can be managed well enough to give the person with the problem a semblance of a normal life.
In the following few paragraphs, we will take a look at the causes of deafness around the world, what can be done about it, and also the prevalence of loss of hearing in different countries.
Causes of hearing loss around the world
If we take the US, for example, then we will quickly find that most cases of hearing loss in the country can be traced back to their roots in the genetics of the deaf person. About half of the complications regarding hearing loss in the US are due to the genetic predisposition of the patient. In the parts of the world that are still developing, however, we see many times deafness taking hold of a person due to a very much manageable medical condition. One of the major causes of hearing loss in the developing world is Otitis media. This occurs when there are infections in the ear in the middle ear. This is a major cause of deafness in the developing world.
Complications during pregnancy also very often lead to a loss of hearing in children and babies. Certain types of maternal infections can lead to congenital loss of hearing. This includes things such as rubella or syphilis. Congenital loss of hearing is when a person is born with a loss of hearing, or it happens very quickly after their birth. Then there are also certain diseases that are the cause of deafness in the developing world. It includes things such as measles, mumps, or meningitis, even though these are things against which people are vaccinated against. It is also important to note that even some medications, like antimalarial medicines, can also lead to a loss of hearing.
When we look at deaf people around the world, we also very quickly realize that age is a very important factor when it comes to loss of hearing around the world. A rough estimate suggests that about 25 percent of the adults in the world who suffer from some sort of hearing loss are over the age of 65.
Prevention and Treatment: Health Organizations
Probably one of the best ways to prevent loss of hearing from developing in children is to give both the mother and the child better access to quality healthcare facilities. The infections that we previously mentioned as being a factor in deafness are very easily eradicated in the developed world. Therefore, it does not cause any significant damage or problems in the developed world. Health organizations around the world all recommend a few things so that this type of loss of hearing can be prevented. It includes things such as proper ear care, immunization, properly treating infections in the ear, and also avoiding using ototoxic drugs.
There happen to be many charities as well as proper organizations whose mission is to provide these developing countries with hearing aid devices and also hearing technologies. Currently, around the world, of those who need hearing aid devices, only 10 percent have access to them. One recent innovation that is really growing in terms of popularity in the developing world is the use of hearing aids that work with solar power. These devices are more sustainable and are also much less expensive than the more traditional devices.
Prevalence of loss of hearing in different countries
Deafness and loss of hearing are some of the most common health concerns around the world. It is also one that is highly preventable, and it is, therefore, a tragedy that so many around the world suffer from this ailment. It is true that hearing loss that is related to age is impossible to reverse. There are, however, a lot of individuals and organizations on the ground who are fighting this issue around the world.
In this small section of this article, we have gone through a few surveys in order to properly understand the prevalence of hearing loss in different parts of the world. We also wanted to highlight the many regulations and conditions that are in place that govern the distribution of hearing aids in different parts of the world.
Surveys that were carried out in many European countries all show that the number of adults who have hearing loss to the degree that it affects their day-to-day functioning is at 16%. There was another study that was conducted in Germany, England, and France, and that one reveals that when asked about 1 in 8 European adults said that they had difficulties with hearing.
A lot of recent research has been able to show the prevalence of loss of hearing in North America to be at about 35 million people. That 35 million Americans suffer from deafness or loss of hearing. The figures in Australia are very similar to the ones found in Europe.
When it comes to data on the number of people suffering from hearing loss in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the data is very scarce and hard to determine.