MED-EL study reveals widespread neglect of hearing health, with 3 in 4 infrequently prioritizing or even skipping hearing tests

Apr 7, 2024

April 7, 2024 – (Innsbruck, Austria): On World Health Day, MED-EL, a global leader in hearing implant solutions, shares striking insights from its recent market research*, shedding light on the critical importance of prioritizing hearing health. While over half of respondents (52%) engage in infrequent testing, a quarter (24%) never undergo hearing tests. Among those aged 18 to 24, this figure rises to 29%. These findings underscore the urgent need for increased awareness and proactive measures to address the alarming gap in regular hearing screenings.

  • A concerning reality: Only 1 in 4 prioritize regular routine hearing tests, with 29% of 18-24-year-olds skipping them altogether, despite being at high risk for hearing loss
  • A global insight: Italy, Mexico and Kenya emerge as top nations for neglected hearing tests
  • A call to action: Individuals with personal experience advocate for hearing screenings

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 1.5 billion individuals, accounting for nearly 1 in 5 people worldwide, are currently living with hearing loss. Against this backdrop, recent global research* reveals a stark reality: 

  • More than half of the respondents prioritize regular health check-ups each year, while just 1 out of 4 choose to undergo routine hearing tests. 
  • Nearly 3 in 4 people (73%) regularly (once a year or more) or occasionally (every 1-3 years) have their vision tested, underlining the importance they place on maintaining eye health compared to hearing. 
  • Similarly, 77% of people have their blood pressure tested regularly or occasionally, with more than 2 in 3 people (68%) also checking their cholesterol levels, indicating a common practice for cardiovascular health awareness. 
  • Strikingly, 3 out of 4 individuals either neglect or infrequently prioritize hearing tests. 
  • Among respondents aged 18 to 24, the percentage of those who never undergo hearing tests increases to 29%.

Neglected hearing tests revealed in global survey

“Hearing is not just about sound; it is the gateway to communication, music, and emotional connections with friends and family,” emphasizes Dr Patrick D’Haese, Director of Awareness & Public Affairs at MED-EL. Given the recent market research findings and the gap in prioritizing regular hearing screenings compared to other health measures, he stresses the vital importance of raising awareness about the necessity of regular hearing checks. “The earlier hearing loss is detected the quicker a person can receive treatment, which results in better outcomes for the individual. It's essential for everyone to acknowledge the significance of hearing health and consider it with the same importance as their vision.”

Hearing health trends by age and region

The research also uncovered notable disparities in testing frequency across demographics. Surprisingly, the youngest age group (18-24) showed the highest percentage (29%) of respondents who never undergo hearing tests. This is particularly concerning considering that, according to the WHO, over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, preventable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. The oldest age group (55+) displayed the highest percentage (26%) of respondents who undergo regular testing (once a year or more). However, the fact that only approximately 1 in 4 older individuals undergo regular testing emphasizes the pressing need for heightened attention and action in addressing the impact of hearing loss in older age.

Furthermore, significant variation was observed in the percentage of respondents who reported never getting tested for hearing across different countries. Countries like Kenya, Mexico and Italy reported the highest percentages of respondents who never get tested, at 34%, 31% and 28% respectively, suggesting potential barriers to accessing healthcare services or lower awareness about the importance of hearing tests in these regions. Conversely, Columbia had the lowest percentage of respondents who never get tested, at 14%.

Hearing loss and its consequences

Hearing loss not only isolates individuals from sound and complicates communication with others but also prompts people with hearing impairments to delay doctor appointments by up to ten years. Untreated hearing loss is associated with considerable health issues, as studies have shown:

  • Higher risk of social isolation and depression due to communication difficulties 
  • Higher likelihood of falls
  • Higher risk of cognitive decline
  • Higher risk of cardiovascular diseases

Firsthand insights 

Patricia from Germany has lived with a progressive hearing loss since elementary school. Her parents’ ignorance led to struggles at university until she received hearing aids at 22, enabling her to graduate. With deteriorating hearing, she got cochlear implants at 44, marking a transformative new beginning. Reflecting on her journey, she shares, “The life I lead now would not be possible without my CI. My wonderful work as an audio coach, the travels and stays abroad, playing the piano, making phone calls, watching TV, listening to the radio, attending training sessions, and having conversations (almost) wherever and whenever I want – all of this is now within my reach.” Patricia emphasizes, “Why endure it when there is another, better way?” CI user Samuel from Nigeria states that his implant restored his confidence and lifted him out of depression. He mentioned that it facilitates his interaction and communication with people, eliminating feelings of isolation in social settings. “It is a life-changing experience, and you will never regret it. Although it is a lifelong journey, you won’t regret the decision. In fact, you would wish you had done it earlier." Patricia and Samuel urge prioritizing hearing tests, seeking solutions, and gaining advice. 

Quick and simple online hearing test

For more information on hearing and the importance of regular screenings, visit the MED-EL website. MED-EL offers free online hearing tests to assess potential hearing loss. These quick and simple tests offer insights into hearing capabilities and communication in everyday situations.

*The online research was carried out in December 2023 and January 2024 by Research Without Barriers in nine countries: Argentina, Austria, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Slovakia and Spain.

About MED-EL 

MED-EL Medical Electronics, a leader in implantable hearing solutions, is driven by a mission to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication and quality of life. The Austrian-based, privately owned business was co-founded by industry pioneers Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair, whose ground-breaking research led to the development of the world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant (CI), which was successfully implanted in 1977 and was the basis for what is known as the modern CI today. This laid the foundation for the successful growth of the company in 1990, when they hired their first employees. To date, MED-EL has more than 2,700 employees from around 80 nations and 30 locations worldwide.
The company offers the widest range of implantable and non-implantable solutions to treat all types of hearing loss, enabling people in 135 countries enjoy the gift of hearing with the help of a MED-EL device. MED-EL’s hearing solutions include cochlear and middle ear implant systems, a combined electric acoustic stimulation hearing implant system, auditory brainstem implants as well as surgical and non-surgical bone conduction devices.   


Doz. DI Dr DDr med. h.c. Ingeborg Hochmair

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