Sunday, June 23, 2024

“Alarming” rate of hearing loss in NZ


One in six Kiwis experience hearing loss according to research by the New Zealand Hearing Industry Association. And a 2021 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says this number is expected to rise to one in four – or around 1.2 million – by 2050.

“These are alarming findings,” says Lesleigh Smith, Head of Audiology at Triton Hearing. “Hearing loss can have a significant impact on quality of life, not only for the individual but also their partner and family.”

Smith says the impact of this on so many New Zealanders is the reason Triton Hearing created the Great Big Hearing Check which runs throughout March in support of New Zealand Hearing Awareness Month.

Through the initiative, New Zealanders can check their hearing online for free at or by visiting one of the 200 partner locations nationwide, including selected Unichem and Life Pharmacies, Farmlands stores, and Triton Hearing clinics.

“There are so many misconceptions that stop people doing something about their hearing loss,” Smith says. “So, getting your hearing checked annually even just as a precautionary measure, is an important step in looking after your hearing. Joining the Great Big Hearing Check is a great way to do it.”

The scale of the problem in New Zealand is similar to that being experienced worldwide – the WHO research predicting hearing loss would affect 2.5 billion people by 2050.

Smith says hearing loss is increasingly being identified as a risk for a range of long-term impacts, from social isolation and depression to the onset of dementia and can go unnoticed because it is often a gradual decline. “But this means the brain is often under a lot of pressure trying to understand what someone is saying, causing exhaustion, frustration, and isolation. Healthy ageing is something we should all strive for, and we know that early intervention with hearing loss can help us live our lives to the fullest,” she says.

Triton Hearing client Glenn Brooks says hearing loss is something that creeps up on people regardless of age or past working environments.

“It took me personally by surprise. I rocked up to a machine in a chemist shop one day took the test and that was my introduction into realising I had a hearing problem,” he says.

The month-long initiative is being promoted to highlight New Zealand Hearing Awareness month and is an official event of the WHO’s, World Hearing Day on March 3. This year WHO is focusing on the prevention of hearing loss through safe listening practices and promoting ear and hearing care.

If the free online hearing check indicates a potential hearing loss, Triton Hearing is offering a free diagnostic hearing assessment with an audiologist at one of their 63 locations throughout New Zealand.

For every online hearing check completed during March, Triton Hearing will donate $1 to the National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing help identify and treat Kiwi kids with hearing loss. Last year nearly 4000 children were screened with 967 identified as having an abnormal result.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Great Big Hearing Check and a huge thank you to Triton for their amazing support of the foundation,” says National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Chief Executive, Natasha Gallardo.

To support the awareness month, Farmlands, Unichem and Life Pharmacies, the Motor Trade Association (MTA), Waikato-Tainui and Triton Hearing are getting behind the Great Big Hearing Check by encouraging all New Zealanders to get their hearing checked for free.

Since it began in 2019,nearly 30,000 New Zealanders have participated in the Great Big Hearing Check, resulting in thousands of dollars being donated to National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Smith says Triton Hearing is hoping that 2023 will be the biggest year yet.

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