Hearing Loss Facts & Statistics in the UK (2022-2023 Update)

It is estimated that there are approximately 11 million people in this country with a hearing loss which makes it the second most common disability in the UK.

However, as an invisible disability, it so often goes unnoticed, making it easier for those living with hearing loss to be ignored or forgotten.

UK Hearing Loss Facts

  • 1 in 6 of the UK adult population is affected by hearing loss.
  • 8 million of these are aged 60 and over.
  • 6.7 million could benefit from hearing aids but only about 2 million people use them.
  • About 900,000 people are severely or profoundly deaf.
  • About 12,000 people in the UK use cochlear implants.
  • Many people with hearing loss also have tinnitus which affects 1 in 10 adults. They may also have balance difficulties.
  • Hearing loss is associated not only with mental health conditions (see below) but also with numerous physical health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, anaemia, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, balance problems and an increased risk of falls. Please visit our page on causes of hearing loss.

Hearing Loss in Older People

  • Hearing loss increases sharply with age – nearly 42% of those aged over 50 years have hearing loss, increasing to about 71% of people aged 70+.
  • About 400,000 older people live in care homes and are disproportionately affected by hearing loss, with approximately 75% of residents having a hearing problem.
  • Unassisted hearing loss have a significant impact on older people leading to social isolation, depression, reduced quality of life and loss of independence and mobility.

Hearing Loss & Dementia

  • When hearing loss is unassisted, those with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as people without hearing loss, whilst those with moderate hearing loss are three times more likely to develop dementia and those with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to develop dementia.
  • There is evidence that cognitive decline can be addressed through early detection of hearing loss and the provision of amplification.
  • It is estimated that at least £28 million per year could be saved in England by properly managing hearing loss in people with dementia.

Hearing Loss Terminology

There are no rights and wrongs about the words used to describe a person’s hearing loss. However, generally accepted definitions are as follows:

  • Deafened – people who were born with hearing and have lost most or all of their hearing later in life.
  • Hard of hearing – people who have lost some but not all hearing.
  • deaf (lower case ‘d’) – people who have hearing loss; they may be born deaf or become deaf. They mix well in the hearing world and may communicate orally and may also be users of sign language.
  • Deaf (upper case ‘D’) refers to people who are members of the Deaf community and who communicate almost exclusively with sign language.
  • Hearing impaired – anyone with any level of hearing loss.
  • Acquired hearing loss – people who were born with hearing but have lost some or all of their hearing.
  • Congenital hearing loss – born with hearing loss which may become progressively worse.

References (Last Updated October 2022)

NHS England: Hearing loss and healthy ageing. 2017.

  • https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/hearing-loss-what-works-guide-healthy-ageing.pdf

NHS England & Dept for Work and Pensions: Hearing loss and employment. 2017.

  • https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/hearing-loss-what-works-guide-employment.pdf

More than 15 million Britons will suffer from hearing loss by 2035. Report from Action on Hearing Loss. 2015.

  • https://www.hear-it.org/more-15-million-britons-will-suffer-hearing-loss-2035

Hearing Matters. RNID, 2015

  • https://rnid.org.uk/about-us/research-and-policy/social-research-reports/hearing-matters/

Hearing Loss and Associated Comorbidities: What Do We Know? Dr Harvey Abrams. The Hearing Review. 2017.

  • http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/11/hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-know/

Facts and figures on hearing loss, deafness and tinnitus. RNID.

  • https://rnid.org.uk/about-us/research-and-policy/facts-and-figures/