World Hearing Day 2022: Eight tips from MED-EL to help prevent permanent noise-induced hearing loss

Mar 3, 2022
March 03, 2022 – (Innsbruck, Austria): MED-EL, a leader in implantable hearing solutions, joins the World Health Organization (WHO) in celebrating World Hearing Day and raising awareness about the importance of hearing loss prevention. This year’s theme “To hear life, listen with care” focuses on the importance of safe listening as a means of maintaining good hearing throughout life – a topic that is also of high importance to MED-EL. According to the WHO, approximately 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to regular and prolonged exposure to loud sounds. However, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by adopting ‘safe listening’ recommendations in daily life.

Hearing loss is sometimes considered an invisible disability and while awareness is low, it is a growing concern worldwide. Globally, over 1.5 billion people live with hearing loss and by 2050 this number is estimated to rise to over 2.5 billion (1 in 4 people), warns the WHO´s first World Report on Hearing. Furthermore, 50 percent of people aged between 12 to 35 years are at risk of permanently damaging their hearing. Loud noise levels at entertainment venues are risk factors to as many as 40 percent of young people in high- and middle-income countries. One reason for this is that most people are unaware of the dangers associated with regularly listening to loud sounds or noise for extended periods of time, especially in modern society where listening to music via headphones, smartphones and other audio devices is very common. 

The consequences of permanent hearing loss are extensive and have a significant impact. When left untreated, impaired hearing greatly reduces quality of life, ability to communicate, productivity levels and negatively affects confidence in social situations, safety, and overall well-being. 

Moritz, an Austrian musician and recipient of a MED-EL Hearing Implant, explains the impact of living with untreated hearing loss, before receiving the implant: "The biggest challenge was interacting in social situations. I would describe myself as a sociable person, my job requires a lot of personal contact and networking is very important. Over the years, communicating with groups became increasingly difficult and was physically exhausting for me. So much so, that I was beginning withdraw myself from events that I used to love."

Prevention is key 

It is important to note that hearing loss cannot always be prevented – it depends on the cause. Genetic factors can make some people more susceptible to hearing loss than others and sometimes it´s just part of getting older. But hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises is avoidable. Based on WHO recommendations, MED-EL has developed a list of daily listening tips which can reduce the risk of hearing loss from recreational sound exposure. 

1. Limit the volume: Lower the volume on personal audio devices to 60 percent below maximum. 
2. Don‘t overexpose ears to loud music: Adults should listen to devices at safe noise levels of up to 80 dBA  for no more than 40 hours per week, whereas children are recommended to not exceed 75 dBA for no more than 40 hours per week.
3. Protect ears from loud sounds: Wear earplugs to protect ears from loud sounds in places with amplified music e.g. at clubs, concerts and entertainment venues. If inserted correctly, earplugs can reduce the exposure by 5–45 dB, depending on the type used.
4. Take breaks: When in noisy environments, take regular breaks in quiet areas. Limit the daily use of personal audio devices. 
5. Reduce background noises: Use well-fitted noise cancelling headphones and turn down the radio, TV, or any other source of sound distraction.
6. Keep a distance from loud sources of sound: Step back from loudspeakers to protect ears.
7. Choose devices that regulate volumes automatically: Try apps and other technologies with built-in safe-listening features.
8. Get your hearing checked: Visit an audiologist or ENT doctor if experiencing ear pain, a permanent ringing sensation (tinnitus) or difficulty following conversations. It is recommended by the WHO that all adults should have a hearing screening every 5 years from the age of 50 onwards until they are 64. From the age of 65 onwards, hearing should be checked every 1-3 years. A free online hearing test is available on the MED-EL website.
Taking a hearing test is a very important preventive step to identify and treat an impairment early on and find the appropriate hearing solution such as a cochlear implant.  

Patrick D’Haese, Corporate Director of Awareness and Public Affairs, MED-EL
says: “At MED-EL, it is our vision to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication and quality of life. As we cannot reverse noise-induced hearing loss, we strongly urge everyone to be as protective of their hearing as possible. Our innovations help to replace the human sense of hearing with the help of technology and can enable people to regain and maintain the basic human need to communicate and actively take part in life. However there are preventive steps everyone should keep in mind.

[1] (a-weighted decibels are an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear)

About MED-EL

MED-EL Medical Electronics, a leader in implantable hearing solutions, is driven by a mission to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication. The Austrian-based, privately owned business was co-founded by industry pioneers Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair, whose ground-breaking research led to the development of the world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant (CI), which was successfully implanted in 1977 and was the basis for what is known as the modern CI today. This laid the foundation for the successful growth of the company in 1990, when they hired their first employees. To date, MED-EL has grown to more than 2,300 employees from around 80 nations and 30 locations worldwide.
The company offers the widest range of implantable and non-implantable solutions to treat all types of hearing loss, enabling people in 134 countries enjoy the gift of hearing with the help of a MED-EL device. MED-EL’s hearing solutions include cochlear and middle ear implant systems, a combined Electric Acoustic Stimulation hearing implant system, auditory brainstem implants as well as surgical and non-surgical bone conduction devices.


Doz. DI Dr DDr med. h.c. Ingeborg Hochmair

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