If You Live in Any of These Places, You Might Lose Your Hearing

Updated: Mar. 17, 2017

Noisy cities aren't just annoying—they could also put your hearing at risk.

Noisy environment is the second most common cause of hearing loss (after aging), according to the CDC. Now a preliminary study found that living in loud cities could up your chances of losing your hearing—bad news for the people of Guangzhou, China.

About 200,000 participants around the world used an app called Mimi to test their hearing. Mimi analysts compared that data to World Health Organization noise pollution stats for 50 cities and found a correlation between city loudness and hearing loss. (Can popping balloons cause hearing loss?)

Guangzhou, China, ranked the worst of the 50 cities in terms of hearing loss and noise pollution, while Zurich, Switzerland, was ranked the best.

Worst cities for hearing:

If-You-Live-Here,-You're-More-Likely-to-Lose-HearingVisual Generation/Shutterstock, Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com

  1. Guangzhou, China
  2. Delhi, India
  3. Cairo, Egypt
  4. Mumbai, India
  5. Istanbul, Turkey
  6. Beijing, China
  7. Barcelona, Spain
  8. Mexico City, Mexico
  9. Paris, France
  10. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Best cities for hearing:

If-You-Live-Here,-You're-More-Likely-to-Lose-HearingVisual Generation/Shutterstock, Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com

  1. Zurich, Switzerland
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Oslo, Norway
  4. Munich, Germany
  5. Stockholm, Sweden
  6. Dusseldorf, Germany
  7. Hamburg, Germany
  8. Portland, US
  9. Cologne, Germany
  10. Amsterdam, Netherlands

To adjust for normal hearing loss from aging, Mimi gave volunteers a “hearing age”—the age expected of someone with that hearing ability. In Zurich, the average hearing age was about 10.6 years older than participants’ actual ages, meaning they had the ear power of someone 10.6 years older than them. But in Guangzhou, the average hearing level rocketed up to 17.6 years older than their actual age.

“We are aiming to create visibility and highlight the importance of good hearing and hearing health,” Henrik Matthies, PhD, managing director of Mimi, told Daily Mail.

About one quarter of U.S. adults have noise-related hearing loss, according to the CDC. To protect your own ears, pop in earplugs when you’re in loud places, like at concerts or around power tools, and wear noise-cancelling headphones—but never turn the volume up to more than 60 percent. Your ears will thank you.