One in four adults in France are affected by some form of hearing loss, a new study published by France’s national institute of health and medical research, Inserm, shows.
It is the first wide-scale study of its kind in France, surveying 186,460 adults (aged 18 to 75) and will allow researchers greater insights into the issue. Previously, only smaller studies had been carried out.
The results show that hearing loss affects people differently depending on their age, lifestyle, health and exposure to loud noises at work.
Researchers involved in the study stated that the people most likely to suffer from hearing loss are the elderly, men, people with a high body mass index (BMI), people with diabetes or those with a history of depression.
Conversely, they note that having a higher income or education level, living alone and living in an urban area are associated with lower odds of hearing loss.
The study notes that only 4% of people suffer from serious, disabling hearing loss.
“This study, carried out on a large and representative sample of the French adult population, will make it possible to draw up a reliable assessment of the situation and to provide public decision-makers with the keys to effective solutions for dealing with this major health problem,” the researchers said.
They pointed out that around 1.5 billion people around the world are affected by some form of hearing loss, while the World Health Organization predicts this number will rise to 2.5 billion by 2050.
Inserm describes this as a "major public health problem", with hearing loss associated in particular with “a deterioration in quality of life, social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia".
Only 37% of people with severe hearing loss wear a hearing aid in France.
Last year, basic hearing aids were made available for free for people in the French health system with mutuelle top-up insurance under the 100% Santé audiologie scheme.