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Apple Hearing Study Insights Reveal How Many Are at Risk of Hearing Loss

Apple on Tuesday shared insights from the Apple Hearing Study, ahead of World Hearing Day today. The study shares findings from long-term hearing health data gathered with the participation of thousands of Apple Watch and iPhone users in the US. Insights included how many experience a daily average environmental sound exposure higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended limit, how many work in a loud workplace, and average weekly headphone exposure, among others. The company on the occasion of World Hearing Day also shares tips and tools to better manage their hearing health.

Findings of the Apple Hearing Study were detailed in a blog post by the company. The study was conducted by Apple through its Research app, in collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Data from the study is being shared with the WHO’s Make Listening Safe initiative. WHO estimates that by 2050, more than 700 million people globally will experience profound hearing issues.

Apple notes that a quarter of the study’s participants experience a daily average environmental sound exposure higher than the WHO recommended limit, and that more than 50 percent of participants now work, or have previously worked, in a loud workplace. The study also highlighted that for one in 10 participants, the average weekly headphone exposure was higher than WHO’s recommended limit. Apple says 10 percent of the participants were diagnosed with hearing loss by a professional, and only 25 percent of those used a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.

Based on the hearing data however, 20 percent of the participants qualify for having hearing loss as per WHO standards, 10 percent of which have signs of hearing loss that are consistent of being caused by noise exposure. Almost half of the participants from the study haven’t had their hearing tested a professional in the last 10 years. Nearly a quarter of the participants experience ringing in their ears a few times a week which could indicate hearing loss.

In its blog post, Apple notes, “Reduced hearing can affect a person’s health and well-being in many ways, such as contributing to reduced communication, feelings of isolation, loneliness, and withdrawal.” It suggests ways in which users can avoid hearing loss in today’s world. These include using the Noise app on the Apple Watch to be aware of your environment’s noise levels, with alerts when they exceeds safe levels. The Health app on the iPhone will help users similarly, showing if headphone or environmental noise has exceeded safe levels, while also keeping a track of exposure history.

Apple also cautioned users about listening to music and other media at the lowest enjoyable volume to avoid risking hearing loss. The company also suggests periodic visits to a hearing professional to get your hearing checked. “We encourage people to take the appropriate steps to protect their hearing and to seek care when needed” said Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General of the WHO, was quoted to say in Apple’s blog post.


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