Paul Stemman

Deaf Info

Home > Health and wellbeing > Physical health

Physical health

Are deaf people as healthy as their hearing neighbours? You would expect so. Just because a person is deaf there is no reason to think this will make them ill. But the evidence is shocking. Deaf people are far more likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The list goes on. Why? It is not because their bodies are any different. It can onnly be because deaf people do not get the same access to services and information.


Research from Austria suggests how bad this inequality might be. A hospital in Linz has a special deaf centre. Staff were able to compare the data between the deaf service and the hearing services. Results included:


Table comparing health problems
  Hearing people Deaf people
Elevated cholesterol 17% 51%
Overweight 14% 63%
Hypertension 11% 39%
Diabetes 8% 13.5%
Heart disease 6% 13%
Gastrointestinal disorders 4% 11%
Thyroid gland diseases 4% 23.5%
Respiratory tract diseases 3% 15%


The deaf people were predominantly sign language users who identified as being part of the Deaf community. The Service found that in their first year 10% of deaf patients needed an operation - far higher than the expected rate among hearing patients.


The following pages give basic information on three health issues.