Using headphones while working from home has made hearing worse, one in four say
More than a quarter of adults believe their hearing has got worse since they started working from home – due to increased use of headphones.
A study of 2,000 adults who work from home found they now wear headphones for an average of three-and-a-half hours on a typical day – an hour longer than before the pandemic.
But this prolonged usage of audio equipment has left 43% suffering from sore ears, with 23% of those experiencing this multiple times a week.
And over a third (36%) have noticed an increase of earwax build-up in the last two years.
Nearly six in ten (59%) have tried to remove their earwax, although 73% turned to cotton buds – which can make the problem worse.
The study marks the launch of Specsavers’ “An ear in review” Hindsight Report, which explores the nation’s relationship with earwax and its impact on our hearing.
It comes after a 317% increase in earwax removal searches online, along with a 257% increase in people asking why their ear is clogged.
Chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison, said: “This research highlights just how reliant the nation's home workers are on their headphones.
“But it is important these items are used in moderation, as increased exposure can lead to a range of problems.
“One of the most common is the build-up of earwax – which can lead to problems such as hearing loss and discomfort, as well as infection or even a perforated ear drum.
“It seems many people have been searching for solutions and treating their wax problems at home, particularly during the pandemic.
“But it is important to avoid putting anything in your ears that could push earwax further into your ear canal, and lead to impacted earwax and other problems.
“That includes cotton buds, your finger, and other household objects that we know people use. Things like matchsticks, hair grips and pencils – yes, really!”
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Worryingly, the study also revealed 39% have had warnings on their devices about high volumes – but 91% of those admitted to ignoring them.
And 65% said others have struggled to get their attention because they have been plugged in to their headphones.
Nearly half (47%) have video calls daily when logging on from their homes, with 40% opting for headphones rather than speakers.
But even when they are not on a call, 41% will have either music or a podcast on in the background.
The research, conducted via OnePoll, also found that of those who are experiencing hearing problems, 42% have sought professional advice, and 33% plan to.
The impact on their quality of life was the most common reason for deciding to get help – while 40% only did so when it hindered their work.
Gordon Harrison added: “Like many health problems, if they go untreated, they will often get worse.
“Our hearing is so precious, and it is typically not something which can be rectified once it gets to a certain point of deterioration.
“That’s why we implore those who believe their hearing is worsening to get help – before it is unfortunately too late.”
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