Wearing headphones and WFH has “damaged our hearing,” experts warn

WEARING headphones and working from home has damaged Brits’ hearing, experts say.

The number of people using their kitchen as an office has increased since the Covid pandemic made the practice the norm.

New data shows Brits believe working from home and wearing headphones has contributed to ear problems


New data shows Brits believe working from home and wearing headphones has contributed to ear problemsPhoto credit: Getty

But new data has shown that those who roll out of bed and log in now wear headphones for an average of three and a half hours on a typical day – an hour longer than before the pandemic.

The study of 2,000 adults found that prolonged use of audio devices caused 43 percent to experience ear pain, with 23 percent experiencing it several times a week.

While 36 percent have noticed an increase in earwax build-up over the past two years.

Almost six in ten (59 percent) have tried removing their earwax, although 73 percent have used cotton swabs, which can make the problem worse.

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The study marks the launch of Specsavers’ “An Ear in Retrospect” retrospective report, which examines the nation’s relationship with earwax and its impact on our hearing.

It comes after a 317 percent increase in online searches for earwax removal, along with a 257 percent increase in people asking why their ear is clogged.

Chief audiologist Gordon Harrison said the research shows how dependent home workers have become on headphones.

He explained: “But it is important that these items are used in moderation as increased exposure can lead to a range of problems.

“And one of the most common is the buildup of earwax – which can lead to issues like hearing loss and discomfort, as well as infections or even a perforated eardrum.

“It seems many people have been looking for solutions and treating their waxing issues at home, especially during the pandemic.

“But it’s important to avoid putting anything in your ears that could push earwax further up your ear canal and cause earwax and other problems.

“This includes cotton swabs, fingers and other household items that we know are used. Things like matches, hair clips and pens – yes really!”

Disturbingly, the study also found that 39 percent had high volume warnings on their devices, but 91 percent of them admitted to ignoring them.

And 65 percent said others had trouble getting their attention because they were plugged into their headphones.

Remove wax safely

If you’re one of the unfortunate few to have a large buildup of earwax, there are ways you can get rid of it — without using a cotton swab.

The NHS states that if earwax doesn’t fall out on its own, you can use medicated olive or almond oil in your ear twice a day for a couple of days.

All you need is three drops and the NHS states that you should use a dropper or dropper while laying your head on one side for a few minutes to allow the oil to work its way through your ear canal(s). finds.

The NHS guidelines say: “You may find it easier to do this first thing in the morning and then just before bed.

“Over about 2 weeks, clumps of earwax should fall out of your ear, especially at night when you are lying down.

“There is no evidence that ear candling or ear vacuums get rid of earwax.”

Almost half (47 percent) make daily video calls when logging in from home, with 40 percent opting for headphones over speakers.

But even when not on the phone, 41 percent listen to either music or a podcast in the background.

Conducted via OnePoll, the study also found that 42 percent of those who have hearing problems have sought professional advice and 33 percent plan to do so.

Impairing their quality of life was the most common reason for deciding to seek help, while 40 percent only did so if it interfered with their work.

Gordon Harrison added: “Like many health problems, they often get worse if left untreated.

“Our hearing is so precious, and it’s not usually something that can be fixed once it’s reached a certain level of deterioration.

“That’s why we’re asking those who think their hearing is getting worse to get help – before it’s unfortunately too late.”

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Sarah Y. Kim

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