5.7 million adults in England suffer with hearing loss, latest survey reveals

Monday 21 December
5.7 million adults in England suffer with hearing loss, latest survey reveals

December 21 at 08:52

At least 5.7 million adults in England, 13% of the adult population, suffer with hearing loss, the latest Health Survey for England has revealed.

New findings from the annual survey of the nation’s health show that older men are most likely to have significant hearing loss; defined as being likely to interfere with hearing speech and affecting both ears.

–  Hearing loss increases markedly with age. It affects 14% of people aged 55-64; 29% aged 65-74; 55% aged 75-84; and 83% aged 85 and over. In contrast, 98% of young adults aged 16-24 had good hearing.

–  Hearing loss is more common among older men than women. Half of men over 65 (50%) had hearing loss compared with 38% of women.

The hearing of more than 5,300 people was tested as part of the study by researchers from NatCen Social Research and UCL for the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

This is the first time that hearing loss in a national sample of the general population in England has been measured alongside survey questions on hearing difficulties.

In addition to testing the hearing of people in the survey researchers also asked participants about their hearing difficulties, revealing some discrepancies between people’s perception of their hearing and the results of the hearing tests.

–  A significant proportion of people were not aware that they had hearing loss. Nearly one quarter (23%) of men and one in six women (17%) aged 55 or over who reported no difficulty hearing were found to have some hearing loss.

–  Less than a third (31%) of those aged 55 or over with hearing loss currently use a hearing aid.

–  Only a quarter of adults with moderate or worse hearing loss had had a hearing test in the last year.

Dr Jennifer Mindell, Reader in Public Health in UCL’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and co-author of this chapter of the report said, “Hearing difficulties make conversations difficult, restrict people’s enjoyment of their social and personal life, and can make people feel cut off from things so these high levels of hearing loss are a cause for concern. We should be particularly worried about the large numbers of people who have hearing loss, but who aren’t aware of it or don’t wear a hearing aid.”