World Hearing Day is here again! This year, we created a hearing map of the world's hearing ability to show the differences and similiarities form country to country. We analyzed data from our hearing test app, which is the largest, digital database that tracks people’s hearing ability in the world.
The Noise of Modern Cities is Ageing our Ears
While no country on earth is quiet, not on world hearing day or any other day, the loudness levels- and the impact on our hearing age, vary significantly. Just as everyone has their own unique ear print, every city has its own unique sound print. Of the 50 we studied, Vienna has the quietest sound print — and its citizens have the youngest ears, with the average citizen experience just 10.59+ more than their real age. Delhi, on the other end of the spectrum, has hearing age of on average 19 years older.
The average citizen of London’s hearing age is just over 14 years older than their actual age, while in New York it’s 12.31 years older and in Berlin, on average people’s hearing is 12.87 years older than their true age.
So, wherever you live, and whatever your actual age, if you live in a city, you’re likely to be unwittingly stressing your ears and experiencing unhealthy exposure to noise pollution. When exposure is chronic it creates health risks. Noise is a biological stressor and depending on intensity and duration, the health impacts range from stress to impaired cognitive functioning, to sleep disturbance and eventually hearing loss.
Now, while all this might sound like a bit of a downer on World Hearing Day, we choose to see in our findings not a crisis, but an opportunity. An opportunity for all of us to take the global issue of hearing loss more seriously and to do ear care better – as individuals and as a society.
7 World Hearing Day Hacks to Protect your Ears in a Noisy World
And at Mimi, we know a thing or two about hearing protection and ear damage prevention, so we thought we’d honor world hearing day by passing along some helpful tips:
- Minimize the noise in your personal environment.
If you’re experiencing concerning levels of noise at work, ask your HR department about hearing protection measures. If you’re living in a noisy building talk to the landlord or other residents about monitoring and enforcing noise standards. Acoustical adaptations (e.g. double glazed windows, quieter ventilation) can transform noise levels of buildings in noisy urban settings. (1)
- Test your ears. Go on.. it’s world hearing day!
For free! results in 6 minutes! through the Mimi Hearing Test. If World Hearing Day isn’t a perfect day to test your hearing, we don’t know what is.
- Limit your volume
To enjoy music on your phone or MP3 safely, listen at 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. Also, avoid using your personal music player to drown out background noise. If the music is louder than the external sounds when you’ve got your headphones on, then it’s too loud. If it’s too loud, it’s hurting your hearing. (2)
- Start caring for your ears now
Don’t wait until you detect hearing problems to care for your ears. Most hearing impairment is preventable with behavioural change and early detection. There’s unfortunately a stigma still surrounding hearing problems. But it’s time to break it. Everyone’s ears hear differently, none hear perfectly and all of us can benefit from some tender loving ear care.
- Use ear plugs
Ear plugs are your friend. Ear plugs can reduce average sound levels by between 15 and 35 decibels. (3) Consider using them, for example, when you’re listening to live music. Most venues have them on site, and while plugs won’t spoil the music, they will shelter your ears.
- Don’t wait for world hearing day to rest your ears
Take time to recover. If you’ve been exposed to dangerous decibel levels for an extended period of time take a conscious ear break. According to Action on Hearing Loss, you need at least 16 hours of rest for your ears to recover after spending around two hours in 100dB sound, for example in a club. (4)
- Talk about hearing health and ear care with others
While you can’t personally turn down the volume from a construction sites or mute the urban cacophony of car engines, you can support local or city level initiatives to limit and regulate noise pollution. Excessive traffic noise is not inevitable; cities can minimize traffic noise by enforcing certain traffic codes, building sound barriers, choosing electric buses, and better facilitating public transit, bicycles, and walking. (5)
And that’s it. We wish you a Happy World Hearing Day. Whether you’re living in the quietest or the noisiest city in the world, we hope you’ll follow our tips to protect your ears – starting by showing your ears some love by testing them today.
Want to check your hearing health and unlock your unique ear print?
Take the Mimi Hearing Test now!
(1 ) Campaign for better hearing
(3) Action on Hearing Loss
(4) International transport forum