Up to a third of year nine students are making themselves deaf by listening to loud music, according to new research from the National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NFDHH).
The foundation made the discovery after conducting screening at three different high schools, Rutherford College, Manurewa High School and Queen Charlotte College.
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Figures released on Wednesday show 34 percent of pupils studied had abnormal hearing and more than 40 percent of those with normal hearing experienced ringing in their ears - a possible precursor to the condition tinnitus.
"Once you lose your hearing, you cannot get it back," NFDHH CEO Natasha Gallardo said in a statement.
"Yet the propensity for teenagers to put their hearing at risk is truly frightening. Parents, caregivers, teachers, employers - we all have to take urgent steps to help young people see the harm they might be doing."
Many of the students studied were using headphones or earbuds alot to listen to music, exceeding the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.
At Manurewa College alone 28 percent of students were found to listen to music at max volume for more than three hours a day. The WHO recommendation is six minutes a week.
Gallardo said there needs to be more screening for hearing loss in teens. There is currently no compulsory screening for hearing loss after preschool.
"We need a national programme to assess just how extreme youth hearing loss rates are, and identify children that are at risk early, as prevention and early detection are key"