Around 22.6 million people in the EU live with an untreated, disabling hearing loss. Untreated, disabling hearing loss in the EU costs 185 billion Euros each year. This is 25 billion Euros more than the EU budget for 2018. The costs are related to lower quality of life and higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss.

A new, extensive scientific report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, concludes that untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 185 billion Euros in the EU each year. This is 8,200 Euros each year per person with an untreated disabling hearing loss. The detailed findings and conclusions in the report will be presented at a lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on the 6th of March in connection with the WHO World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March.

Lower quality of life and lost productivity

Lower quality of life due to disabling hearing loss costs the EU 130 billion Euros each year. Lost productivity in society due to a higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss costs 55 billion Euros each year in the EU. In total, this is 185 billion Euros. The cost does not cover extra health care costs caused by hearing loss. A disabling hearing loss is defined by the Global Burden of Disease research group (GBD) as a hearing loss of 35 dB or greater.

In Europe as a whole – including non-EU countries – untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 216 billion Euros each year.

The report documents that the use of hearing aids and other hearing solutions improves health and increases quality of life. It also documents 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.

There are 34.4 million people with a disabling hearing loss (35 dB or greater) in the EU. More than 22.6 million are not treated for their disabling hearing loss as only around one in three in Europe with a disabling hearing loss use hearing aids or other hearing solutions. This is more than the combined population of Austria, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania. With a steadily aging population who live longer and longer and with an earlier onset of hearing loss due to increased noise exposure, this growth will increase even further in the years to come.

A meta study

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, is a meta study which has analyse and compared hundreds of scientific studies and papers in the last two decades about the prevalence and the consequences of hearing loss and the use and benefits of hearing aids.

“The scientific report clearly demonstrates that untreated hearing loss is a major health issue and that untreated hearing loss has a huge economic and social impact on our society. It also documents that checking your hearing and treating hearing loss pays, both for the individual and for society,” says Secretary General Kim Ruberg, hear-it AISBL, which has published the report.

Check you hearing

“If you think you might have a hearing loss, my best advice is to get your hearing checked. You can start by checking your hearing using the WHO “Check your hearing” app, or test your hearing online at But if you suspect that you have hearing problems my best advice is that you get a real hearing test carried out by a hearing professional,” says Kim Ruberg.

World Hearing Day is held by the WHO on the 3rd of March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2019 is “Check you hearing”.

The report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, was carried out for hear-it AISBL by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield, Brunel University, 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”.


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