Protect your hearing! Apple study highlights dangers of loud noise and tinnitus

Apple recently shared preliminary findings from its large-scale Apple Hearing Study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Michigan. Initiated in 2019, the study focuses on tinnitus, a hearing condition characterized by ringing or other noises in the ears without an external source. This condition can significantly affect the quality of life, impacting sleep, concentration, and the ability to hear clearly. The study has enrolled over 160,000 participants, who provided data through surveys and app-based assessments.

Apple hearing study tinnitus

The study revealed that tinnitus is widespread, with 77.6% of participants reporting they have experienced it at some point in their lives. The data showed that the prevalence of daily tinnitus increases with age, with individuals aged 55 and older being three times more likely to experience it daily compared to those aged 18–34. Additionally, 15% of participants reported experiencing tinnitus daily. The study also highlighted a gender difference, noting that 2.7% more males than females reported daily tinnitus, though a higher percentage of males claimed they had never experienced it.

Apple hearing study

Participants in the study employed various methods to manage their tinnitus, with noise machines, nature sounds, and meditation being the most commonly used strategies. Despite these efforts, there is no definitive treatment for tinnitus. The study indicated that exposure to loud noise is a primary cause, with 20.3% of participants attributing their tinnitus to noise trauma.

Apple’s technology, such as the Noise app on the Apple Watch and sound level monitoring features in the iPhone’s Health app, plays a role in promoting hearing health. These tools notify users when environmental noise levels are high and track exposure to potentially harmful sound levels. Features like Active Noise Cancellation and Loud Sound Reduction in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max further help mitigate the effects of loud environments by countering external noises with anti-noise.

The Apple Hearing Study also delved into the characteristics of tinnitus sounds, finding that the majority of participants described their tinnitus as a pure tone, often at pitches of 4 kilohertz or above, similar to a songbird’s call. Others reported experiencing white noise. This detailed characterization of tinnitus sounds helps researchers understand the condition better and paves the way for developing more effective management strategies.

Looking ahead, Apple aims to integrate these findings into its products to support individuals with hearing conditions. Rumors suggest that future versions of AirPods Pro might offer enhanced hearing aid functionalities, making them even more beneficial for those with hearing impairments. Additionally, upcoming updates to the iPhone’s Health app might include advanced hearing tests to help users identify potential hearing issues early.

The Apple Hearing Study, with its extensive data collection and participant engagement, provides valuable insights into tinnitus and its impacts. By sharing this data with organizations like the World Health Organization, Apple contributes to broader initiatives aimed at making listening safer and improving hearing health globally. As research continues, the findings from this study will inform future treatments and technological advancements, offering hope for better management of tinnitus and other hearing conditions.

About the Author

Asma is an editor at iThinkDifferent with a strong focus on social media, Apple news, streaming services, guides, mobile gaming, app reviews, and more. When not blogging, Asma loves to play with her cat, draw, and binge on Netflix shows.