Repeated exposure to harmful sounds that are too loud causes damage to the sensitive structures of the inner ear. This condition is referred to as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). The workers from the transport, construction, manufacture or mining industries are always exposed to sounds between 120 to 150 decibels. Continuous exposure to any noise above 85 decibels, leads to loss of hearing.  Surveys show nearly 30 million people in United States seems to be affected by the sounds from workplace, recreational sites or home surroundings. Of these, nearly 10 million are suffering from NIHL.

Hearing loss prevention is not a Herculean task. Individuals, who are at risk of such high decibel noise at the work place or any other location, should use ear protection devices. Being OSHA complaint requires the workplaces to have proper hearing loss protection aids. Earplugs and Earmuffs can be used to protect the ears from sound levels detrimental to the ears. Earplugs are the popular form of ear protection, which offers a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 22. But, this is not sufficient to withstand the higher decibel noise levels of the industries. Earmuffs help in such situations.

It has been seen that people remove their ear hearing protection devices at the workplace to communicate with their counterparts. However, this act becomes the cause of permanent damage to the ear, as even a smallest exposure to such high decibel sounds is detrimental to the delicate inner ear. A large range of ear protection products are available off-the shelf. With new technological innovation, there are a number of electronic earplugs and earmuffs available which are high on safety features and capabilities.

While selecting ear hearing protection devices, it is necessary to choose the right one according to the place of use and ones comfort level. The equipment that one should look into are ones that would allow the workers to hear the background sound, communicate with their fellow workers while suppressing the excess noise that creates disturbance and effects the auditory nerves.

Technology has made available a number of Earplugs in modest designs combined with unparalleled communication functionality. These new age electronic earplugs and electronic earmuffs have in-built Noise Suppression and Speech Enhancement technology. Besides, enabling face-to-face communication, it covers short distance of up to 50 meters as well as connectivity in long distances. Being Bluetooth enabled, this offers optimized hearing and speech clarity when used with cell phones, is cost effective and provides an overall communication solution.

If you have any questions about hearing or hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing.

Health Dept. warns against buying hearing aids online

Online tests can over simplify problems with hearing and miss important signs.

This week in The United States the Minnesota Department of Health started urging consumers to be cautious about buying hearing aids over the Internet.

The Health Department issued a news release Wednesday stressing the importance of people seeing a hearing health professional if they are concerned about possible hearing loss. Internet providers increasingly are offering online hearing tests and selling the devices directly to consumers, said Catherine Dittberner Lloyd, a Health Department official.

“Before hearing aids can be sold to consumers, (state and federal) laws require practitioners to…visually inspect the consumer’s ears and ear canal,” the Health Department said in its release.

This is a very important point because a more serious problem is the possibility of overlooking a serious medical condition underlying the measured hearing loss.    What if they have a conductive or retrocochlear component?  What if they think that the two tone test is as accurate as a full diagnostic hearing evaluation, with otoscopy and either ignore the symptoms with or without a purchase from online?   Watching for medical indications and medication interactions is very important in hearing health care.  If we focus on the product all of this will be missed.

The lead taken by Minnesota may spread throughout the USA and hopefully it will take hold in Europe as well as we see an increase in the availability of all types of service and products across the internet. In the case of medical devices it is so important to seek the opinion of a trained expert. If you have any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids contact Hidden Hearing.



Young sporting Hero who is hard of hearing

Sean O'Connor from Lisgriffin accepts the Hidden Hearing Heroes award from Gay Byrne.Being hard of hearing has not let a young Lisgriffin boy hold him back in life – as he plays soccer, football and hurling and, for good measure, he goes horse riding.

Bubbly 12 year-old Seán O’Connor was presented with his award by broadcasting legend Gay Byrne after he won a ‘Hidden Hearing Heroes award, which highlight the achievements of those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Seán’s mother Diane, who is also hard of hearing, put her son’s name forward for the award. This week the proud mom, who described Sean as “a great little man”, said he has “a fantastic attitude and just gets on with his sporting activities,” without allowing his hearing disability to hold him back.

After being diagnosed five years ago Sean told his mom “if I need the hearing aids then I need them.”

“That was his attitude from the word go. It was fantastic,” Diane said.

To read more about the Hidden Hearing Heroes awards see Hidden Hearing website.

Photographer Johnny Corcoran wins heroes award

Photographer wins heroes workplace award

It is because of Johnny Corcoran’s success in business and his willingness to share his talent and expertise with other deaf people that he won the Hidden Hearing Heroes Workplace Award.

Held in association with the Irish Deaf Society, the awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of deaf and hard of hearing people in Ireland.

“Winning the award makes me feel proud of myself and knowing that I have made lots of people proud too is a positive feeling and it gives me confidence to keep moving forward with my business,” says Corcoran.

“ I am very grateful to everyone who voted for me, and would like to take this chance to say thanks,” he says.

While Corcoran enjoyed spending time with his friends at primary school in Beechpark Deaf School and at secondary in St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys, he did not enjoy the academic life and left school before his Leaving Certificate. But he always had a good eye for art and photography, and won the Texaco art competitions in his age category a few times as a child.

He did a graphic design course at Roslyn Park College (the training and employment wing of the Rehab Group) after leaving school and, following his graduation, spent a decade in the industry working in a variety of businesses.

“However, it soon became obvious that, despite the best intentions of employers and clients, my deafness was becoming an issue. So much of the contact was over the phone, and using fax and e-mail seemed to slow the whole process down too much,” he says.

“It led to frustration for everyone and I became disheartened. I needed a new beginning, but just didn’t know what to do.”On the day he decided to search for a course to retrain in a different area, an opening in the Fetac certified photography course in Roslyn Park College came up.

“I learned a lot about the camera and studio light and I picked it up really quickly. I think it was because taking photographs and working with Photoshop is something I really enjoy,” he says. “I got my first wedding job a few weeks later from a family friend and it just grew from there, mostly through word of mouth.”

Working for himself suits him, says Corcoran. He can communicate with clients by e-mail, text and face-to-face, and he is confident that the quality of his work speaks for itself. “I do wedding and portrait photography mainly. I want to capture memories. I want people to get images from me that they are proud to display in their homes and that show them at their best,” he says.

Corcoran has run photography workshops for other deaf people who are interested in digital photography and arising out of that, he has set up the Deaf Photographers Club. It meets every couple of weeks, to exchange advice and tips about how to get the best from cameras.

Most recently, Corcoran worked as a volunteer with the Irish Deaf Society on its Signs of Life exhibition. He took the photos of 26 celebrities including Robbie Keane, Roddy Doyle and Andrea Corr using Irish Sign Language (ISL). They can be viewed at

For other information on the Heroes awards se Hidden Hearing.

Don’t take your hearing for granted!

People take their ability to hear for granted, it’s not until someone starts to lose their hearing that they realise what they have lost.

Modern hearing aids have incredible technology

When you hear, there is a lot more going on than you might think. It’s not just about the loudness of things, if it were, then hearing aids would be simple devices and we would all be able to hear perfectly with them. You have a natural ability to pinpoint the source of a sound (called localizing), you can hear where it is coming from, if you stand in a field and listen to the birds chirping you know which trees they are in. Animals do this too and many of them can swivel their ears to help localize sounds, which I guess helps to know where to run from predators.

You can tune-out the things you don’t want to hear. When you are in a busy restaurant you can hear your friends around your table talking above the noise of the people from the next table – your ears and brain work in tandem to focus on the sounds that you are really interested in and all the other sounds are filtered out to become background noise. This is the holy-grail of hearing aids, perfect speech understanding in noise, they do an excellent job but are not perfect and the worse your hearing is that harder it will be to understand voices in noise.

Hearing isn’t just about volume. If you have a hearing loss then you will often be able to hear someone talking but not be able to understand what they are saying. You can buy a hearing aid that goes as loud as you like but you still won’t understand what they are saying as you’ve lost your ability to discriminate sounds. Often, when you go for a hearing test you will be given a hearing discrimination test, this is used by the audiologist to determine how much hearing aids will benefit you.

Speech discrimination is something we learned, when we were young we learnt to talk and to understand what others were saying. Our brains learned the meaning of words. If you hear a foreign language for the first time then it sounds like gibberish and it is even hard to pick out the words to begin with, you brain doesn’t know how to process those words. As you lose your ability to hear, and you are hearing less words clearly, your brain stops having to process those words and over time its ability to discriminate words diminishes – it’s like a muscle, use it less and it shrinks. So if you leave your hearing loss untreated for a number of years then your brain is not getting a good word-workout and when you finally do get a hearing aid you still have the problem of weakened speech discrimination. Another reason why people get frustrated with a hearing aid. We hear with our ears but listen with our brains.

Modern hearing aids do an excellent job of helping those with hearing loss to hear better. But a hearing aid cannot give you back the perfect hearing that you had when you were young, it can only amplify and modify the sounds coming into your ear so that whatever hearing you have left can be best used for you to understand sounds and voices. This is a big frustration for people buying hearing aids and they often feel that their purchase was a waste as they don’t hear as much as they expected to. There’s no doubt that sometime in the future we will have some kind of hearing restoration device, but for now, it’s best to try and look after the hearing you have. In fact, Cochlear implants already exist, which are fundamentally different to hearing aids and do more or less restore your hearing by bypassing completely your damaged ears – these are usually only fitted to people with profound hearing loss.

If you have any questions about hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing.

Finding it hard to conceive my second child


 A series of articles by various writers on medical topics this one is by Edel Rooney.

Finding it hard to conceive my second child

I have a one-year-old boy and we have been trying to conceive number two for nine months. I am getting a bit worried now because it’s taking so long.  We would like them to be close in age. Have you any tips on trying to conceive? We are both finding it hard to relax because of the strain of this.

Although ‘Irish Twins’ are still very common, doctors recommend that the minimum advisable amount of time between pregnancies is about one year, so you are just at that point now. Remember, your body needs time to recover after pregnancy and build back up its strength. Though mentally you may be ready for number two, physically you may not be. Nature knows best!
Try to get away for a few days with your husband and child, perhaps get some romance back in your life and try to forget about your attempts to get pregnant for a while.  This may help you relax. Should you not be successful in getting pregnant by the start of spring, perhaps pay a visit to your GP/obstetrician/gynaecologist to seek advice.

But, in most cases, once people relax and forget about the issue, and spend a bit of time together, conception happens naturally.
There are some steps you can think about that can improve your conception prospects. Take a supplement of folic acid (400 micrograms per day). Stop smoking if you are a smoker and make sure you and your partner are eating a healthy diet. Avoid or cut down on your alcohol intake.  All of this applies to your partner too.
You could also avoid those high risk foods not advised in pregnancy, so that you are already taking the best care of yourself once you do become pregnant.

Being overweight or underweight will make it more difficult for you to conceive. Of course, lots of overweight people do conceive without losing weight, but even dropping 10 per cent of your body weight can help. Excess weight affects hormone production, which can affect a woman’s ability to ovulate and get pregnant.

Of course, if there is an underlying issue hindering your conception attempts, it’s just as likely to be related to your partner’s fertility. He should eat and drink properly and perhaps try a vitamin supplement such as Wellman tablets.

Needless to say, you should get to know your own cycle as well as possible. Many women exhibit symptoms such as tender breasts, abdominal pain and increased libido during ovulation, so be aware of the telltale signs. You can also purchase an ovulation testing kit although be careful this doesn’t but extra pressure on you and your partner.

When pregnancy does not arrive as quickly as you hope, trying to conceive can easily become stressful and worrisome for couples.

In many ways it can be even more stressful the second time round, as you might have the expectation that you can have children easily and people may not be as empathetic or understanding of your concerns as they know that you have one child already.

But of course that does not take away from the anxiety you are feeling and having one child may even increase your hopes to have a second so that your children are close in age.
As well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking plenty of exercise, it may be worth looking into complementary therapies such as acupuncture. Not only may this help with relaxation, it can actually boost your prospects of conceiving. But you should always discuss and course of treatment with your doctor first.
What you should also realise is that you are not alone. Many couples take time to have their second child but the child eventually arrives.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing ‘Heroes’ Recognised with Awards


Gay Byrne with Heroes Award Winners.

Broadcaster Gay Byrne presented Ireland’s first ‘Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards’ in association with the Irish Deaf Society, which highlight the achievements of those who are deaf or hard of hearing.




The awards were presented to those who are deaf or hard of hearing and have made a significant contribution to society, their community, workplace, family or through sporting excellence. The Awards event is a joint initiative between Hidden Hearing and the Irish Deaf Society


Pictured here Gay Byrne are the winners (L-R)



Sportsperson Award – Wayne Reid (Westmeath); Grandparent Award – Aidan L Dillon (Dublin); Social Contribution Award – John P Doyle (Dublin); Lifetime Achievement Award – Con Lynch (Cork); Gay Byrne; Workplace Award – Johnny Corcoran (Dublin);  Supporter Award – Carol Dunworth (Limerick); Media Award – John Bosco Conama (Dublin);  Youth Award – Sean O Connor (Cork) (twelve years old)