Over a quarter of adults believe their hearing has got worse since they started working from home

By Richard Jenkins
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 1:47 pm

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 per cent suffering from sore ears, with 23 per cent of those experiencing this multiple times a week.

While 36 per cent have noticed an increase of earwax build up in the last two years.

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Nearly six in 10 (59 per cent) have tried to remove their earwax, although 73 per cent turned to cotton buds which can make the problem worse.

Clogged ears

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 per cent increase in earwax removal searches online, along with a 257 per cent 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.

“And 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 match sticks, hair grips and pencils – yes really!”

Worryingly, the study also revealed 39 per cent have had warnings on their devices about high volumes, but 91 per cent of those admitted to ignoring them.

And 65 per cent said others have struggled to get their attention because they have been plugged in to their headphones.

Nearly half (47 per cent) have video calls daily when logging on from their homes, with 40 per cent opting for headphones rather than speakers.

But even when they are not on a call, 41 per cent will have either music or a podcast on in the background.

Seeking professional advice

The research, conducted via OnePoll, also found that of those who are experiencing hearing problems, 42 per cent have sought professional advice and 33 per cent plan to.

The impact on their quality of life was the most common reason for deciding to get help, while 40 per cent 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.”