May 2019 New Zealand Herald
Kiwi kids are suffering hearing loss at alarming rates as they spend hours listening to loud music on headphones. Some are even complaining of constant ringing in their ears, so bad it keeps them awake at night. It has sparked fears at the National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing that local kids could be going deaf at faster rates than global averages. A pilot study by the foundation of 192 students at Auckland's Rutherford College this year found 11.9 per cent had hearing loss that warranted a referral to a medical specialist. This was more than double the World Health Organisation's global estimates that hearing loss affected 5.3 per cent of 12-to-19-year-olds living in middle-to-high income countries.
"Unfortunately, hearing never comes back – if you lose it, its' gone," NFDHH chief executive Natasha Gallardo said. "That's why this project is so important because we need to quickly understand what the hearing loss rates are here and then develop a prevention programme."
It comes as rates of hearing loss accelerate around the world due to technology and society becoming noisier. WHO now estimates one in five people aged between 12 and 35 suffers from hearing loss - a 30 per cent increase compared to the late 1990s. In New Zealand, an estimated 880,350 people, or almost 20 per cent of the population, suffered from hearing loss in 2016 at a cost of $957 million to the economy, according to a report commissioned by the NFDHH.