How common is hearing loss?

What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss in adults
Hearing loss in children
Glue ear

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be present from birth due to genetic or developmental abnormalities, or arise through trauma or disease during the lifetime of an individual. The degree of hearing impairment can vary from mild to profound and causes significant social and personal difficulties. It results in communication problems and can lead to depression, confusion and isolation.


Hearing loss in adults

Permanent acquired hearing loss of a significant degree affects one in 12 of the adult population in Ireland. In the over 70-age group this rises to some 50%. Thus, about a quarter of a million adults in Ireland will have a permanent hearing impairment, due mainly to ageing and/or noise exposure, which affects their quality of life, communication, social activity and participation to varying degrees.

Hearing loss in children

The total prevalence at school entry of unilateral (in one ear) and bilateral (in both ears) mild to profound hearing loss is thought to be of the order of 3 to 4 per 1,000; that means between 3,000 to 4,500 preschool and school age children in Ireland will have a permanent hearing impairment, with potential consequences for education, communication, literacy, social and emotional development, and later employability.

‘Glue ear'

Glue ear is a condition where the middle ear fills with glue-like fluid instead of air. This causes dulled hearing. In most cases it clears without any treatment. Temporary childhood hearing impairment due to ‘glue ear' is widespread, with an 80% likelihood of it occurring between birth and seven years of age; around 3% of young adults have a hearing loss due to childhood glue ear.

 


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