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NZ Getting A Great Big Hearing Check To Raise Awareness Of Hearing Loss

Kiwis across the country can take part in the Great Big Hearing Check 2020 throughout March, as Triton Hearing looks to raise awareness of the impacts of hearing loss in New Zealand.

The nationwide hearing health care provider is partnering with pharmacies, stores and employers around the country to offer free hearing checks. The month-long initiative is being promoted to highlight the World Health Organisation’s World Hearing Day on 3 March 2020, which this year is focused on the importance of having regular check-ups to reduce hearing loss.

Over 880,000 New Zealanders currently live with hearing loss, which is estimated to cost the economy around $1 billion per annum.

Triton Hearing Audiometrist and Area Manager Fabian Straube says noise-induced hearing loss is a problem in New Zealand due to the prevalence of loud environments and the persistence of the classic Kiwi ‘she’ll be right’ attitude – particularly within the workplace.

“We see a lot of people with noise-induced hearing loss in New Zealand. Because we have an extensive farming community, a large trades sector and a sizeable manufacturing industry, a lot of Kiwis work in environments where they are regularly exposed to noise.”

“While there’s more awareness now of the need to use personal protective equipment, the issue is that people can be quite lax around using the hearing protection for a short-duration activity. For example, they might say: ‘I’m not putting my hearing protection on just to put a nail in the wall’,” says Mr Straube.

“But it’s that repetitive exposure over time that chips away at your hearing and accelerates your hearing loss.”

As part of this year’s Great Big Hearing Check, Triton Hearing has partnered with commercial construction company Naylor Love to hold free hearing checks at ten of their worksites in Auckland.

Naylor Love plans to highlight the risks of workplace-related hearing loss for their employees and contractors in an effort to reduce the high cost of hearing loss. According to a recent report by Deloitte Access Economics for the National Foundation for the Deaf, productivity losses from hearing damage cost New Zealand over $550 million per year and personal costs associated with loss of wellbeing reach almost $4 billion.

Naylor Love Auckland Health & Safety Manager, Dean Henderson says construction has inherently been a noisy environment, but the impacts on personal health from noise-induced hearing loss are significant.

“The first point of call over recent years has in fact been the last line of defence, Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE,” says Dean Henderson.

“This is one way to help reduce the potential of noise on a worker, however only when it is used correctly and with other control measures such as well-maintained equipment. Education is required on when and how to use PPE and we need to start considering the likes of engineering solutions or innovative ways to reduce the potential exposure to noise on our projects.”

“We need to get away from thinking PPE is the solution to our problems and think how as an industry we can really contribute to a reduction in ACC Claims and hearing loss for our people”

Workplace-induced and age-related hearing loss needs to be detected early to avoid further damage and improve the options for treatment. Untreated hearing loss can have a significant impact on quality of life – not only for the individual but also their partner and family – and ultimately result in greater permanent damage.

“The brain is often under a lot of pressure trying to understand what someone is saying, and it has a negative impact on memory if hearing loss goes undetected,” says Mr Straube. Hearing loss is increasingly being identified as a risk for a range of long-term impacts, from social isolation to the onset of dementia.

“Most people don’t get their hearing checked until 10-to-15 years after they first noticed a hearing loss. Often, it’s a gradual decline that it just goes unnoticed by the individual, so like getting your eyes tested, it doesn’t hurt to get your hearing checked, even just as a precautionary measure.”

New Zealander’s can protect their hearing by:

- wearing earplugs or noise cancelling earmuffs in a loud environment – particularly if the noise is prolonged

- keeping music to volume levels below 85dB for duration of a maximum of eight hours

- having regular hearing check-ups

- knowing the signs of hearing loss to get it treated as soon as possible.

World Hearing Day is held internationally on 3 March and aims to raise awareness on how to prevent hearing loss and deafness, and to promote ear and hearing care across the world.

To be part of the Great Big Hearing Check 2020, check your hearing for free at participating Unichem and Life Pharmacies, Farmlands stores, Triton Hearing clinics or online at greatbighearingcheck.co.nz.

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