Why allow hearing loss to lead to isolation?

Taking care of "little" health glitches now could slash your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease later by 40 percent.

Hearing loss in older age has other repercussions beyond the sensory loss and beyond the individual. Those close to you start to get irritated with you. Some might stop talking to you altogether. As frustrating as it is for you it is also frustrating for friends and family members. Hearing is how we primarily communicate; talking on the phone, listening to the television or radio and how we communicate face-to-face. Loss of hearing primarily creates difficulties in communicating. It’s difficult to accept change, and many people will blame anything and everything before admitting that their hearing isn’t what it used to be. But one thing is certain: You need help.

Causes of late onset deafness are usually linked to diminished functionality in the middle ear. There are two primary causes for this degeneration. There is an erosion of the microscopic blood vessels in the middle ear that causes hearing loss but does not disproportionately affect the individual’s ability to hear and understand speech.

The second degeneration is caused by loss of the ear’s tiny “hair” cells – known clinically as presbycusis. Presbycusis can have a more serious affect on the ability to understand speech. Vital components of speech sounds, usually the higher pitched consonants – which define speech – become indistinguishable. It is for this reason that many people first have trouble in understanding women and children – and since men are more likely than women to have hearing impairment – this can and does create psychological friction. The lower pitched male voices are often easier to hear and comprehend. As hearing deteriorates the ability to understand speech becomes more severely affected.

Some people may have a genetic predisposition, while diet and lifestyle may also play a role. For example exposure to noise or pressure – as in diving and flying – in earlier life will hasten the onset of noticeable hearing loss. Other factors include osteoporosis, and some diuretic medications directly contribute to diminished hearing.

Intiga is the world’s smallest fully wireless hearing solution compared to behind-the-ear hearing solutions with binaural processing and streaming capabilities.

Vanity plays a major barrier to acknowledging our hearing is not what it used to be and asking for help. The alternatives are not sexy. Hearing aids have improved, but still are not a badge of youth. Successful aging is understanding the limitations and overcoming them. Aging is a privilege, showing that we have surmounted the barriers that life throws at us. Modern hearing aids have come a long way and new technology with invisible in the canal aids can take care of any vanity issues.

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

What are the effective treatments for Tinnitus?

Why Hearing Loss is Associated with Tinnitus

A new publication: The Prevalence of Tinnitus and Efficacy of Treatments (November, 2011 HR) This study was co-authored by Dr. Richard Tyler (University of Iowa) and Jennifer Born (American Tinnitus Association). The key findings are as follows:

Prevalence: Approximately 10% of the population have persistent tinnitus while 50% of people with hearing loss experience tinnitus. We found people who reported they have tinnitus but they were not aware of their hearing loss; it is generally recognized that most people with tinnitus have hearing loss. Thus, the hearing loss population is much larger than previously thought.

Efficacy of treatments: In assessing the efficacy of nine treatments no one method was tried by more than 7% of people with tinnitus. The most effective methods for mitigating tinnitus were (median mitigation): hearing aids (34%), music (30%), and relaxation techniques (10%).

Impact of hearing aids: In directly querying hearing aid users on the impact of their hearing aids on tinnitus 46% reported mild to moderate mitigation of their tinnitus with hearing aids, 3 out of 10 report moderate-substantial relief; 67% of those who use hearing aids and report mitigation of tinnitus indicated that their tinnitus was lessened “most of the time” to “all of the time” and 3 out of 10 reported their tinnitus was completely mitigated while wearing their hearing aid and a small minority (3.4%) even when they took their hearing aid off.

Best practices: hearing healthcare professionals with “best practices” in fitting hearing aids can nearly double the rate of efficacy of hearing aids in mitigating the effects of tinnitus.

 If you or anyone in your family or circle of friends has Tinnitus advise them to see an audiologist. Hidden Hearing offers free advice and consultation without obligation. Contact Hidden Hearing for further information.

Danger ! Loud Toys !!


With Christmas nearly upon us, many well-intentioned parents may be purchasing potentially harmful toys for their children.It is hard to imagine a parent giving a toddler a laser pointer to play with; most people are aware that looking directly at a laser can potentially damage the retina. But many parents are inadvertently buying toys that produce noise levels loud enough to damage their children’s hearing.

The incidence of noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise. Today’s children are born surrounded by noise; in many cases starting in the crib.

Recent data indicate over 12 percent of children between the ages of 6-19 years and over 15 percent of children between the ages of 12-19 years have noise-induced hearing loss. While certain types of hearing loss, such as loss due to aging or genetic factors, are not preventable, noise-induced hearing loss is.

Any sound above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss over time. The louder it is, the less time it takes to cause damage. So what can parents do? When shopping, use common sense and do a listening check yourself. Hold the toy close to your ear and take a listen. If it is too loud for you, it is definitely too loud for a child.

Look for toys that have volume control features or an option to mute. MP3 players and iPods obviously pose a threat to children’s ears and hearing. If in doubt, pass on the noisy toy and choose something quieter. Remember, your child has a long life of listening ahead of them!

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

Am I at risk of getting diabetes?

Both my mother and father suffered with diabetes. Does that mean I am more at risk? I am 60 years old and a little overweight.



Diabetes affects people of all ages and health backgrounds and the number of cases worldwide is now considered an epidemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Diabetes occurs when the sugar level in the blood is too high due to a lack of a hormone called insulin. Because of the insulin deficiency, the body does not burn carbohydrates properly.

The disease has two forms.

Type 1 diabetes – once known as insulin dependent diabetes – usually affects younger people. It is usually diagnosed before the age of 35. A sufferer cannot make insulin so must have regular insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels.

With type 2 diabetes, the sufferer does make some insulin in the body. However, the insulin may not work properly or not sufficiently to keep sugar levels healthy. This condition is prevalent in people who are overweight and the disease may respond to weight loss. However, this may not be sufficient and sufferers may require tablets or additional insulin to properly moderate sugar levels.

At your age, you are more at risk of suffering Type 2 diabetes. A family history of diabetes does increase the risk factor. Excess weight and a lack of physical exercise also make you vulnerable to the condition. One study showed about 55 percent of type 2 diabetes patients are obese at diagnosis.

In another study, non-smokers with high levels of physical activity and a healthy diet and who consumed alcohol in moderation had an 82% lower rate of diabetes.

Other factors that can cause type 2 diabetes include hypertension, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, chronic pancreatitis and cancer.

Your risk level increases with age as glucose tolerance progressively declines as we get older.

The HSE estimate that 200,000 Irish people suffer from diabetes, many of whom are unaware they have the disease. There is an average of seven years between onset and diagnosis and many people are diagnosed only when they suffer a related medical episode.

Note too that there are another estimated 200,000 people in Ireland with pre-diabetes. These have impaired tolerance to glucose and will develop full diabetes within five years unless they make changes to their diet and lifestyle.

The onset of type 2 diabetes is gradual and therefore hard to detect.   Symptoms that may alert you to get checked for diabetes include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Tiredness
  • Recurring infections
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent passing of urine
  • Hunger and eating more
  • Weight loss despite increased diet
  • Blurred vision
  • Head aches and pains

Less common symptoms include:

  • Impotence (in a male)
  • Vaginal yeast infections (in a female)
  • Slow healing of cuts

The earlier you detect the disease, the easier it will be to manage. There are serious related conditions if type 2 diabetes is allowed go untreated or unchecked. These include vision loss, kidney failure, nerve damage and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

If properly treated and managed, you can live a normal life with diabetes. But your best bet is to avoid it by avoiding obesity and taking regular exercise. If you haven’t exercised in a while, talk to your doctor first to assess what you are capable of safely doing.

You should also avoid foods that cause high rises in blood sugar and eat a normal, healthy diet. For more information about diabetes, visit hse.ie.

You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 882884 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.


Kids Together center develops love of learning

Isabella Fernandez and Jordan Novak sign “horse” during a lesson at Kids Together in Oviedo.

Disabilities aren’t easy to cope with. Whether it be an adult or a child, the emotions and struggles that accompany the loss of a sense are not anything short of traumatic. But as times get tough, it’s places like Kids Together Child Development Center that make the transition smoother, said Katie Dagenais.

Being the mother of a hearing impaired child, Dagenais knows the difficulties in finding good care for her daughter, Jocelyn.

Jocelyn was first diagnosed with a hearing problem when she was two days old during a hearing test at Winnie Palmer Hospital. Several tests later, it was determined that little Jocelyn had a permanent, genetic hearing loss that would leave her deaf for the rest of her life.

Knowing that this would be an obstacle, Dagenais and her husband, Todd, set to work right away trying to discover the best way to care for Jocelyn. Knowing that she would have to return to work at some point, it was an immediate goal for Dagenais to find a school for Jocelyn to attend.

After some research, the couple found Kids Together Child Development Center. Although the school had never dealt with a deaf child before, owner Karla Ingrassia said Jocelyn’s disability wouldn’t get in the way of her education. Adapting to the new student in her school, Ingrassia set out to integrate sign language into her classrooms and find new and innovative ways to cater to the little girl.

This was just the beginning of a new world of curriculum Ingrassia would incorporate into the Kids Together school. From that point, sign language students from the University of Central Florida School of Communications Disorders were brought in to teach the language to teachers and students. From infants in the nursery to preschool-aged students, sign language became a permanent fixture in the education children received at Kids Together, Ingrassia said.

After a valiant effort to integrate the sign language program into the classrooms, the staff at Kids Together were recently the 2011 recipients of the Honors of the Association Award from the Florida Educators Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individuals. The award is presented each year to an educational organization that exhibits an impressive commitment to meeting the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children.

Man sues Delta for $2 million, says loud flight hurt hearing

Delta Airlines.

An Oregon man who claims he suffered hearing loss because of a loud flight is suing Delta Air Lines for $2 million, The Oregonian newspaper of Portland reports.

Kent J. Neilson’s suit was filed Friday in Oregon’s Multnomah County Circuit Court. In the suit, he says he suffered “extreme discomfort” during a four-hour fight from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Portland because of an unusually loud noise in the cabin.

The Oregonian writes “the complaint describes Neilson only as an Oregon man” and “alleges that the noise during the April 28, 2010 flight was loudest in the area around his exit row seat, 10B.”

As a result, Neilson claims he suffered partial-but-permanent hearing loss in both ears. He adds he also suffers “disabling and severely aggravating” tinnitus in both ears because of the flight.

In the suit, Neilson says that despite his complaints, flight attendants did not offer him ear plugs or request an unscheduled early landing because of the noise.

Neilson also claims that toward the end of his flight, a Delta attendant acknowledged other passengers had complained about the noise on a previous flight.

Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter tells Today in the Sky the airline cannot comment on pending litigation.

If you want to keep listening to music you better turn it down!

Earbuds that deliver sound directly to the ear canal have become increasingly popular. But hearing specialists are concerned that when turned up too loud, earbuds may cause permanent damage to young ears.

“Every single day in our clinics,” Dr. Sharon Kujawa of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary  tells the kids, “we see people with permanent hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds.”

PKujawa starts her physiology-of-the-ear lecture. Slides show the snail-shaped cochlea, the inner ear chamber where hearing happens. Each of the paired cochlea are lined with 16,000 little hair cells that vibrate at different sound frequencies. Those vibrations get translated into nerve signals and sound perception. But loud noise can damage the sensitive cells — or even kill them. How loud is too loud? Kujawa brings her own sound effects: She shows that regular speech registers at about 60 decibels on the sound meter. A lawn mower registers at 90 decibels. Finally, a chain saw is over 100 decibels. That’s in the danger zone. Less than a half-hour of that can do damage.

What about the lunchroom noise? Kujawa calls on Akeema Charles and Tyrell Pugh, two eighth-graders who earlier helped her measure the cafeteria’s decibel levels.

“We got 89.2, 88.6 and then 89.8,” Charles reports.”That’s pretty loud, you guys,” Kujawa says. Then she launches into her main message, about personal stereo players. “The reason they’re potentially dangerous,” she says, “is because you take that little earbud and you put it down your [ear] canal, and you’re thisfar from the source of the sound now.” She holds her fingers about a half-inch apart.To drive the point home, Kujawa introduces Ben Jackson, a cool-looking, twenty-something guy. He immediately captures the kids’ attention as he launches into a rap called “Turn it to the Left”:

Jackson is part of Kujawa’s team for personal reasons. His father Isaiah, who is looking on from the back of the cafeteria, is a classical musician — a conductor — who lost much of his hearing a few years ago. The reason is unknown.

This is why Jackson works hard to get kids to understand what is at stake. During the question-and-answer period, he lays it on the line in terms they can understand:

“If you shave all the hair off your head and wait six months, what happens?” Jackson asks.”It grows back,” the kids yell. “Exactly,” Jackson says. “Now, the reason that your ears are different — and it’s crucial that you remember this — is, when you damage your ears, they don’t heal. They never get better, they just get worse — slowly or quickly — throughout your life. “Two-hundred middle-schoolers are completely silent as Jackson asks: “You want to be able to keep listening to music, don’t ya?”

Scientists are paying attention to what is happening to kids’ hearing, too. Six years ago, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported noise-induced hearing loss in nearly 13 percent of Americans between six and 19. Kujawa says that translates to more than 5 million young people.

“To have a statistic like that certainly raised many, many red flags,” she says.

Some experts don’t accept the way CDC researchers measured hearing loss. But even critics of that study worry about noise levels that kids are living with these days. In her research, Kujawa exposed young animals to loud noise. She found that they had accelerated hearing loss later in life, even without further noise exposure.

Scientists have measured sound levels from MP3 players. At 70 percent of volume, they pump out 85 decibels — about the same as the school cafeteria. After lunch, Akeem Charles, the eighth-grader who helped Kujawa measure noise levels, plugs in her earbuds. The music from her iPod can be heard from several feet away.

Charles says she listens to her iPod a couple of hours every day. After she turns it off, she sometimes hears “big time” ringing in her ears. “But … I don’t know, I just like music. I can’t help it,” she says. Kujawa tells the kids that ringing in the ears is a sign of imminent ear damage. It means that it’s time to cut back on listening time and turn the volume to the left.

Or, as Ben Jackson raps, “It ain’t no fun man, it ain’t no fun, when you’re 13 years old and your ears are 81.” Research conducted by Hidden Hearing reveal some worrying trends:

o       60% of MP3 users are facing premature hearing damage, as they listen to their MP3 players at dangerously high volumes (above 89db) for up to 2 hours a day

o       1 in 10 people are blasting their ears with sound levels of 100db or more – the equivalent of hearing a pneumatic drill 10 feet away

o       11% of people listening to MP3 players and 35% of people attending gigs and concerts say they have experienced ringing in their ears or dull hearing signaling that damage to their hearing has begun. 

This is a serious issue – the EU say that it could be common place in 2020 to see one in ten 30 year olds wearing a hearing device as a result of listening to personal music players too loudly

Hidden Hearing recommends the 60/60 rule – only listen to your MP3 player for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60 % of the maximum volume.