Apple’s Hearing Study Reveals 1 in 10 Participants Exposed to Too Much Noise

Apple has shared data from its Apple Hearing Study, revealing insights into the hearing health of its participants.

Citing a year’s worth of results from the Hearing Study carried out via its Research App, Apple on Tuesday warned that you could be damaging your hearing through sound exposure.

“Hearing loss can impact a person in many ways, and our goal is to drive increased focus on the importance of hearing health across decision makers and the general population,” said Ren Minghui, assistant director-general of the World Health Organization. “We encourage people to take the appropriate steps to protect their hearing and to seek care when needed.”

Carried out in tandem with the University of Michigan, the study took place between November 2019 and February 2021 and analyzed data from approximately 70,000 participants. Each participant was involved in the study for at least 60 days.

In addition to noise levels, which the study captured through the Apple Watch and through Apple headphones, the study also looked at heart rate and exercise data for Watch wearers. Researchers also gathered demographic data, gave participants surveys, and used the iPhone to give participants a virtual hearing test.

The study found that average weekly headphone exposure for one in 10 participants is higher than the World Health Organization recommends.

A quarter of participants experience ringing in their ears multiple times a week, which may be a sign of hearing damage. Only 10 percent of those in the study have been diagnosed with hearing loss, but data suggest that 20 percent have hearing loss by WHO standards, and half of that is a result of noise exposure.

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

The WHO estimates that more than 700 million people globally will experience profound hearing loss by 2050, Apple noted.

“The Apple Hearing Study is one of the studies launched within the Research app that are helping democratize how medical research is conducted by giving Apple customers the ability to participate in research using technology they’ve already made a part of their everyday lives,” reads the press release.