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Hearing Loss


Globally, 360 million people which is about 5% of the world’s population live with disabling
hearing loss, of whom 328 million are adults. The prevalence of hearing loss increases by 7% in
adults including 183 million males and 145 million females [1]. Nearly 180 million people aged 65
years or older (that is, more than 30% of the population) have hearing loss that interferes with
understanding normal conversational speech [2]. The prevalence of disabling hearing loss in
adults over 65 years is highest in South Asia, Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nearly 90% of those with hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries. The East
Asia region (China, Democratic and People’s Republic of Korea and Taiwan) has the biggest
number of persons affected by disabling hearing loss accounting to 22% of the total population.
High-income nations and the Asia Pacific countries account for only 11% and 10% of people with
hearing loss respectively. Detailed analysis of existing data reveals that prevalence of hearing
loss decreases exponentially as the gross national income per capita increases [3].

In addition to this, more than 1000 million young persons between the ages of 12 and 35
years are estimated to have an increased risk of developing hearing loss because of the unsafe
use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging levels of sound in noisy entertainment
venues [4]. This risk is reflected in the growing use of smartphones and the increasingly popular
practice of listening to music through headphones.

In the Philippines, a study conducted by Martinez [5] identified hearing impairment as a
rampant condition having a prevalence of 28%. Most common ear disorders in the country remain
to be caused by earwax impaction and ear infections. Disabling hearing loss is also approximated
to be 8.8% of the country’s population. Up-to-date, high-quality, national and local epidemiological
data on hearing loss, however, are generally lacking and this scarcity contributes to low
awareness of the problem.

[1] WHO global estimates on hearing loss. Retrieved from estimates/en/ (accessed 6 January 2017).
[2] World report on ageing and health. Geneva: World Health Organization (2015). Retrieved from (accessed 6 January 2017).
[3] Multi-country assessment of national capacity to provide hearing care. Geneva: World Health Organization (2013). Retrieved from HearingCareEnglishweb.pdf?ua=1 (accessed 6 January 2017).
[4] Hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds: a review. Geneva: World Health Organization (2015). Retrieved from 9789241508513_eng.pdf?ua=1&ua=1 (accessed 6 January 2017).
[5] Martinez, N. (2005). Prevalence of hearing loss in the Philippines.