More than a quarter of adults self-report worse hearing since working from home, Specsavers survey finds
- Published on 01 June 2022
New research commissioned by eye- and ear-care retailers, Specsavers, has revealed a cause and effect chain to possible hearing deterioration that starts with pandemic restrictions and leads to headphone overuse and calamitous DIY wax removal.
Surveying 2,000 adults who began home working under the Covid societal shake-up, this OnePoll study reveals an alarming picture of people becoming accustomed to excessive use of headphones, and to recklessly courting hearing health problems. Home workers were found to be now wearing headphones for an average of three-and-a-half hours on a typical day – an hour longer than before the pandemic.
This prolonged usage of audio equipment has left 43% suffering from sore ears, with 23% of these experiencing this multiple times a week, the survey recorded.
Earwax build-up tackled with "matchsticks, hair grips, and pencils"
The data from the survey informs Specsavers' Hindsight Report, and reveals that that 36 percent of those questioned have noticed an increase of earwax build up in the last two years.
Nearly six in ten (59%) have tried to remove their earwax, with many of these are turning to techniques that are likely to only make the problem worse – such as 73% of these reaching for the cotton buds.
There has also been a 317% increase in earwax removal searches online, along with a 257% increase in people asking why their ear is clogged, says Specsavers.
"This research highlights just how reliant the nation's home workers are on their headphones," points out Specsavers chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison.
"It seems many people have been searching for solutions and treating their wax problems at home, particularly during the pandemic," Harrison added.
"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!" the specialist underlines.
High volume warnings ignored
The study also reveals that 39% of those questioned have had warnings on their devices about high volumes, with 91% of these admitting to ignoring the warnings.
Untreated problems will get worse
Another notable reveal from the the study was that 42% of those who are experiencing hearing problems have sought professional advice, and 33% plan to do so. The impact on their quality of life was the most common reason for deciding to get help, but 40% did so only when it hindered their work.
"Like many health problems, if they go untreated, they will often get worse," said chief audiologist Harrison. "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."