Apple’s Hearing Study reveals how exposure to noise and sound levels can affect your hearing

Apple has published its first insights gathered from the Apple Hearing Study after a year and a half of research. The research study was launched in September 2019, along with its Heart and Women’s Health study.

The company released its findings in their Apple Research app—which allows iPhone and Apple Watch users to voluntarily participate in health studies from Apple and its research partners. But it’s currently not available in Malaysia.

The hearing study is a partnership between Apple and the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The data from the study is also provided to the World Health Organisation’s Make Listening Safe Initiative.

Here are the key findings in Apple’s Hearing Study:

  • 25% of participants experience a daily average environmental sound exposure (which can include traffic, machinery, public transport, and so on) that is higher than the WHO recommended limit
  • Nearly 50% of participants now work, or have previously worked, in a loud workplace
  • Average weekly headphone exposure for one in 10 participants is higher than the WHO recommended limit
  • 1 in 10 participants have been professionally diagnosed with hearing loss
  • 75% of those professionally diagnosed with hearing loss do not use a hearing aid or cochlear implant
  • 1 in 5 participants experience hearing loss compared to World Health Organisation standards
  • 1 in 4 participants experience a ringing in their ears a few times a week or more

“Even during this pandemic, when many people are staying home, we’re still seeing 25% of our participants experiencing high environmental sound exposures. The results of this study can improve our understanding of potentially harmful exposures, and help identify ways that people can proactively protect their hearing,” according to Rick Neitzel, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

It’s important for us to be aware of how we expose ourselves to sound in different environments. While catchy tunes can be tempting, you should try listening to music and other media at the lowest enjoyable volume.

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To combat loss of hearing, Apple suggests to check noise levels with the Noise app on Apple Watch, which can be an effective way to be more aware of sound exposure. And as “nearly 50 percent of participants haven’t had their hearing tested by a professional in at least 10 years”, everyone should have their hearing health checked periodically by a professional.

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