Hearing loss epidemic anticipated in young New Zealand generation

iPods, MP3 players and other personal stereos suspected of causing hearing loss among young New Zealanders. It may add up to a hearing loss epidemic, costing in terms of both loss of quality of life and money. Over the most recent five years the expenditures on hearing loss have doubled.

New Zealand's national Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), is concerned about the prospects of a hearing loss epidemic in the young generation from excessive use of iPods, MP3's and other personal stereos.

Hearing loss expenditures doubled

Over the most recent five years, expenditures related to hearing loss have doubled. ACC now spends more than NZD 40 million annually on compensation, assistive devices, medical attention, etc. for hearing impaired New Zealanders.

The majority of compensation cases is still related to older generation workers, who spent most of their working lives without modern regulations with respect to hearing protection in noisy workplaces. But the majority of future compensation claims will be filed by the MP3 generation, according to John Wallaart of ACC.

Potential epidemic

His prediction is supported by a study conducted by New Zealand’s National Foundation for the Deaf, showing that seven in 10 people under the age of 30 years have signs of permanent hearing loss after listening to loud music.

”The research confirms our concerns that the MP3 generation is facing a hearing epidemic,” said Marianne Schumacher, executive manager of the foundation, which is encouraging young New Zealanders to look after their hearing now, so they can enjoy sound later in life. Simple precautions are needed. Most important is turning down the volume.

More knowledge needed

”We honestly don't know if iPods by themselves are damaging people. There's a strong suspicion that they probably are, particularly for people who listen for very long periods of time,” said John Wallaart. In an effort to gain more knowledge, ACC is making significant investments in research into noise exposure and how to control it.

Source: The New Zealand Herald

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