Apple Hearing Study update for World Hearing Day 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared March 3, 2021 to be World Hearing Day.

The Apple Hearing Study is a groundbreaking study on how long-term exposure to environmental and headphone sound levels can impact hearing health. Data from this study is also being contributed to WHO's "Make Listening Safe" initiative, whose purpose is to raise awareness of safe listening practices with the aim of reducing hearing loss. Exposures to high levels of environmental or occupational sound for extended periods of time can lead to permanent, irreversible, noise-induced hearing loss. For this reason, many organizations, including the WHO, have recommended safe limits for noise exposure that are intended to prevent hearing loss.

In light of World Hearing Day, we would like to share with you some insights from the study.

What we have found regarding noise exposure

1 in 4 participants has a daily average environmental sound exposure (which can include traffic, machinery, public transport, etc.) that is higher than the WHO recommended daily limit.

Consider checking the noise levels around you, such as using the Noise app on your Apple Watch to identify extended exposure to high levels of environmental noise.

1 in 10 participants has an average headphone sound exposure that is higher than the WHO recommended weekly limit.

Consider listening to music and other media at the lowest enjoyable volume. Apple users can also review your Headphone Audio levels in the Health app on your iPhone.

4 in 10 participants now work, or have previously worked, in a loud workplace.

Consider checking the noise levels around you, such as using the Noise app on your Apple Watch to identify extended exposure to high levels of occupational noise. Also, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has a variety of information available on how to protect your hearing at work.

2 in 10 participants attends loud events at least monthly.  Of these, 6 in 10 never wear hearing protection.

Wearing hearing protection such as ear plugs at loud events can help prevent long-term hearing loss.

What we have found regarding hearing ability

1 in 10 participants reported being diagnosed with hearing loss by a professional. Of these, 3 in 4 do not use corrective support such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Also, participants’ hearing testing data show that 1 in 5 participants has hearing levels that meet the WHO definition of a hearing loss, and 1 in 10 has signs of a hearing loss caused by noise.

See an audiologist if you think you might have a hearing loss, as there are technologies available that they can help you overcome that loss.

4 in 10 participants haven’t had their hearing tested by a professional in the past 10 years, the testing interval recommended by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for people under 50 years of age. Older individuals should be tested once every 3 years.  

When is the last time you had your hearing checked?

1 in 4 participants hears ringing in their ears a few times per week or more.

This could be a sign of hearing damage – see an audiologist to have your hearing checked if you experience frequent ringing in your ears.

These initial results suggest that many study participants have exposures to loud noise, and yet do not commonly wear hearing protection. Many study participants have also experienced hearing loss or ringing in their ears, and haven’t received corrective support for their hearing loss. Each of these findings presents an opportunity for people to better protect and preserve their hearing health, by avoiding unnecessary noise exposures, using hearing protection, and seeing an audiologist for help with hearing-related problems. With more focus on hearing loss prevention, better education for the public, and increased awareness of noise exposures and hearing loss impacts, we can all work together to improve hearing health around the world!

We will continue to share the results of the Apple Hearing Study. Your participation has been instrumental in developing a better understanding of environmental sound exposures, hearing-related behaviors, and hearing health outcomes across the nation, and we are excited about how this will transform the approaches we take to studying and promoting hearing health. We look forward to sharing additional findings with you in the future.

If you are not currently participating in the study, please consider joining to help us develop even more insights into how Americans are exposed to sound! 

Get the app. Join the study. DOWNLOAD THE RESEARCH APP.