Hear the World Foundation Releases International Study: How the World Hears

The latest study by the Hear the World Foundation reveals gaps in our
knowledge surrounding hearing and hearing loss as well as the potential
consequences for our ears

STAEFA, Switzerland–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Young Americans are exposing themselves to a high risk of losing
their hearing with 60% of teenagers and young adults revealing they
listen to at least an hour of music a day through headphones, 15% doing
so at very high or maximum volumes. Tellingly, just 38% of all Americans
surveyed are aware that hearing loss is irreversible.

Among the fascinating insights into our listening behavior found in the
“How the World Hears” study conducted by the Hear the World Foundation
is the revelation that of the 88% of Americans surveyed who agreed that
good hearing is important to them, only 9% take steps to always protect
themselves from everyday noise.

Hear the World is a very strong proponent of people taking simple steps
to protect against the excessive noise often experienced in daily life
and the survey unearths a low level of public awareness to the long-term
impact of hearing loss with just 38% of all Americans surveyed aware
that hearing loss is irreversible.

Our ears are our most powerful sensory organ but also our most
sensitive. They are in use 24 hours a day and have a significant
influence on our physical and mental well-being. Nevertheless, we often
underestimate the significance of hearing in a world dominated by the
power of visuals.

The Hear the World Foundation has addressed this issue in a far-reaching
international study of hearing habits titled “How the World Hears”. The
survey shines a spotlight on our listening behavior and how aware we are
about hearing and hearing loss.1

Key facts at a glance:

  • 60% of the young adults (16-24) surveyed in the U.S. spend at least
    one hour a day listening to music through their headphones and 34%
    spend two hours or more. This was only exceeded by young Brazilians,
    of whom 64% spend at least one hour listening to music through
    headphones every day with 18% going for four hours.
  • 15% of the young Americans surveyed (16-24) put their hearing at risk
    by listening to music through headphones at very high to maximum
    volume. However common sense appears to increase with age: Whereas 11%
    of 25- to 34-year-olds listen to music at very high to maximum volume,
    among 35- to 55-year-olds this figure is just 5%. Germany and Brazil
    lead the way in the 16-24 age group with 18% and 16% respectively
    listening to music and very loud volume.
  • Only 9% of U.S. respondents said that they always protect their ears
    from everyday noise (including traffic, aircrafts and building sites),
    for example by wearing earplugs or covering their ears. 24% of those
    surveyed do this only occasionally and 68% never protect their ears.
    At just 8%, the Swiss were the least likely to protect themselves from
    everyday noise.
  • 58% of the Americans surveyed consider good hearing to be very
    important, with 30% deeming it simply to be important. The Brazilians
    seemed to be the most health conscious in this respect, with 86%
    saying that good hearing is very important to them. This stands in
    great contrast to their listening behavior.
  • Only 38% of the Americans surveyed were aware that hearing loss is
    irreversible. The lowest levels of awareness are found in China, where
    only 14% know that damaged hair cells in the inner ear cannot be
  • In all countries surveyed, there was great uncertainty as to whether
    or not hearing loss was age-related. 15% of the Americans surveyed
    speculated that hearing loss is something that only impacts on the
    elderly, with 22% saying that hearing loss can affect anyone. The fact
    is that the aging process is indeed the most frequent cause of hearing
    loss, with over half of us suffering from hearing loss by the time we
    reach 80. The second most common cause of hearing loss is everyday
    noise, something that people can easily protect themselves from.

“The results of this survey are very concerning, although based on my
clinical experiences with children and young adults, I am not at all
surprised,” said Jace Wolfe, PhD, Director of Audiology and Research,
Hearts for Hearing Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK. “We routinely see
teenagers with hearing loss that was formerly only seen in middle-aged
and elderly persons or people who work in industrial or military
environments with high-level noise. The configuration of their hearing
loss strongly points toward noise as the cause, and when queried about
their otologic history, they almost invariably report that they
frequently listen to music at high levels under earphones.

“I must say, however, that I am very encouraged that this survey found a
direct link between people’s listening behaviors and their awareness of
hearing loss and the dangers of high-level noise exposure,” he
commented. “Obviously, it is imperative that healthcare professionals
raise awareness of the importance of good hearing and of hearing
preservation in order to prevent unnecessary hearing loss and the
permanent, life-altering effects associated with it.”

Important tips for protecting your ears:

•  Keep the volume down: A noise level of less than 85 dB is
considered safe for our ears. When listening to music on audio
devices, keep the level no louder than 60% of the maximum volume.

•  Listen to music through headphones that fit well and decrease
the ambient noise, this allows you to enjoy it at lower volumes,
also in noisy surroundings.

•  Wear earplugs at concerts, in discos, and in other noisy
places. Protection can reduce the noise level by 5 to 45dB.

•  Use smartphone apps that measure ambient noise levels.

•  Give your ears a rest, put in acoustic breaks in your everyday
and turn off all sources of noise.

•  Have your hearing checked regularly by a specialist.

You can find further information on the study and on hearing and
hearing loss at

About the Hear the World Foundation

By supporting the charitable Hear the World Foundation, Sonova is
campaigning for equal opportunities and a better quality of life for
people with hearing loss. As a leading manufacturer of hearing care
solutions, the company feels socially responsible for contributing
towards a world where everyone has the chance to enjoy good hearing. For
instance, the Hear the World Foundation supports disadvantaged people
with hearing loss around the world and gets involved in prevention and
providing information. It focuses particularly on projects for children
with hearing loss, to enable them to develop at the appropriate rate for
their age. More than 90 famous ambassadors, including celebrities such
as Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox, Sting and Joss Stone, champion the
Hear the World Foundation.

For further information, go to www.hear-the-world.com.
Connect with us at http://www.facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld


1 The “How the World Hears” study was conducted by the
market research institute “Research Now”, which surveyed a total of
5,000 people between the ages of 16-to-55 in the U.S., Germany,
Switzerland, Brazil and China between September and November 2015.


Hear the World Foundation
Elena Torresani, +41 58 928 33 33