Lenny Abrahamson directs hearing loss advert for Hidden Hearing

‘Christmas is one of the key times when families tend to notice hearing loss’

Hidden Hearing, Ireland’s leading hearing healthcare provider, is launching its first television advertisement over the Christmas period. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, best known for the award-winning ‘Garage’ and ‘Adam and Paul’ films, the concept focuses on the fact that hearing loss is often noticeable to others but modern hearing aids are not.

Lenny Abrahamson directing the new Hidden Hearing Ad.

Shot in three different Dublin locations, the advert highlights that hearing loss can affect people of varying ages and seeks to dispel the stigma around wearing hearing aids by demonstrating that while people will notice your hearing loss, they don’t tend to notice the modern-day technologically advanced hearing aids.

Dolores Madden, Marketing Manager with Hidden Hearing, who assembled a top quality team for the project, explains the concept behind the advert: “Our main aim with the television advertisement is to bring hearing loss up the national health agenda. People don’t tend to give hearing loss as much priority as loss of vision, with many sufferers ignoring the issue for several years. There is a stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid, with the perception that hearing health is only a priority for the elderly, yet we help people of various ages with issues around their hearing. Also technological advancements have seen hearing aids get significantly smaller so they are no longer noticeable to other people.


To see the 'Making Of" click on the picture above.

“We chose the Christmas period during which to launch the new advert, as social and family events are generally the times that hearing loss can become most apparent to others. People tend to disguise their hearing loss, but it is increasingly obvious to family and friends. We were delighted to work with one of Ireland’s finest Directors, Lenny Abrahamson, who really understood that there is no reason for people to ignore their hearing loss”, said Dolores Madden, Hidden Hearing.

The Hidden Hearing advertisement was produced by Speers Films with McCann Erickson as the advertising agency and will feature on RTE1, TV3, Sky and TG4 from 26th December.

Beethoven could have benefited from modern day digital hearing aids which can amplify the tones he missed

Beethoven's hearing loss linked to lack of high notes in his music

Beethoven’s progressive deafness shaped his later musical style as he switched to lower notes as he had difficulty hearing higher ones, a study has found.Researchers have analysed Beethoven’s music through his life as his hearing problems are said to have progressed.

It was found that his compositions gradually included fewer high notes as he aged.

Then once total deafness overcame him, the high notes appeared again, it was found.

The analysis appears in the British Medical Journal Christmas edition and was conducted by a team in the Netherlands.

The team found that Beethoven’s so-called three styles correspond wto the progression of his deafness and looked at the notes he wrote in string quartets for the violin.

His music was grouped into four time periods, 1978 to 1800, 1805/6, 1810/11 and 1824 to 1826.

The number of notes above 1568Hz written for the first violin were counted and calculated as a percentage of all the notes.

It was found that shortly after the first document symptoms of hearing loss in 1896 to 1898, the early quartets opus 18 comprised of about eight per cent high notes.

By 1805, Beethoven had reported difficulty hearing woodwinds and opus 59 written at that time contained about five per cent high notes.

Quartets opus 74 and 95 comprised of less than two per cent high notes and were written at the time Beehoven is said to have used cotton wool in his ears because of unpleasant buzzing sounds. Shortly after this visitors had to shout to be understood and Beethoven started using ear trumpets.

By 1825, after it is understood Beehoven could not hear his own Ninth Symphony, he wrote the late string quarters opus 127 to 135 and the proportion of high notes had risen again to almost four per cent.

Lead author Edoardo Saccenti, a postdoctoral research fellow, from the University of Amsterdam, wrote in the BMJ: “These results suggest that, as deafness progressed, Beethoven tended to use middle and low frequency notes, which he could hear better when music was performed, seemingly seeking for an auditory feedback loop.

“When he came to rely completely on his inner ear he was no longer compelled to produce music he could actually hear when performed and slowly returned to his inner musical world and earlier composing experiences.”

However he added: “As they encompass only a limited subset of Beethoven’s compositions, our results, are far from being conclusive: proving or disproving whether Beethoven’s hearing loss had a substantial impact on shaping his musical style would require complete and exhaustive statistical and spectral analyses of the composer’s complete catalogue.”

Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “The type of hearing loss experienced by Beethoven is very common and it’s not surprising that he found hearing high tones in his music and everyday conversation increasingly difficult.

“Although Beethoven ultimately lost most of his hearing, whilst it was declining, he could have benefited from modern day digital hearing aids which can amplify the tones he missed so much.”

Are Whales suffering from hearing loss ?

Boats should stay more than 90 m away from the whales and should not charge and travel parallel to the whales.

WHALES might be suffering hearing loss due to noise generated by engines of tourist boats, ships, and large tankers, according to Peter M Scheifele, a bioacoustic researcher at the University of Connecticut, USA . Whale-watching has become a popular tourist attraction across the world. Tourists are taken in boats to see whales from a distance of a few to hundred metres. This is a good source of income for tour operators. But the whales are exposed to high levels of noise generated by the engines of boats that often crowd around one or two animals. This has caused concern among researchers who believe that in the long run, such activities might affect the hearing capability of whales.

Marine mammals depend on sound waves travelling through water for navigation, avoiding predators, and finding mates. Scheifele and other researchers are planning a project to determine the effect of such underwater noise generated by engine driven vessels over the last century, most of which is being caused by tankers and merchant ships. A lot of fishing boats carrying tourists generate a lot of noise and at a close range, which according to Scheifele is conditioning animals not to be afraid of ships. According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Bath, UK , 5.4 million people in 65 countries went whale-watching in 1994. Two-thirds in the US alone.

Recognising the potential for harm to the whales, National Marine Fisheries Service of the US has set guidelines to protect the animals. It says that boats should stay more than 90 m away from the whales and should not charge and travel parallel to the whales.
A project is scheduled to study the effect of noise on whales, but simple observations would not be fruitful because it is quite likely that — like humans — whales could endure repeated loud sounds without realising that their hearing is being damaged, says Scheifele.

What’s the secret of healthy aging?

Is there a formula for healthy ageing that I can help my 76-year-old widowed dad implement to keep him well longer?


Researchers recently identified four healthy lifestyle factors that could go a long way toward reducing your father’s risk of contracting common and life-threatening diseases.  Those successful ageing practices are not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet.

Together, these four lifestyle attributes appear to be associated with as much as an 80 percent reduction in the risk of developing such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, according to a report in Archives of Internal Medicine.

The article explains that cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes-chronic diseases, which account for many deaths, are largely preventable. “An impressive body of research has implicated modifiable lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical activity, diet and body weight in the causes of these diseases,” the authors write.

After adjusting for age, sex, education level and occupation, individuals with more healthy lifestyle factors were less likely to develop chronic diseases.  Participants who had all four healthy ageing factors at the beginning of the study had a 78 percent lower risk of developing any of the chronic diseases during the follow-up period than those who had none of the healthy factors.

Although it was not included in the study, companionship also is an important part of a senior’s healthy lifestyle.  Since your father is alone, make sure that he has the kind of meaningful social interaction that will help him continue to live an independent and healthy life.

That means encouraging him to participate in activities outside the home. These could include things like a bridge club or active seniors group or even learning a new skill. Some secondary schools look for interested local seniors to come into the school to be trained on using the internet by transition year students. Your local library may be a source of useful information on clubs and associations in your area.

If he’s not able to get out and about so easily consider ways of bringing the companionship to him. Does he have a few friends who could come to the house regularly? Try and find something that will appeal to his existing interests. If he loves his garden, perhaps some members of the local gardening club could drop by?

Seniors who are alone, particularly those who need help with the activities of daily living, are at risk of developing unhealthy lifestyle habits without this important support.


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.


Chewing, talking or singing might potentially help protect your hearing!

Simple actions may activate the tiny muscles in your ear to muffle loud sounds

Chewing, talking or singing might potentially help protect your hearing, suggests an Australian researcher.

These simple actions may activate the tiny muscles in your ear to muffle loud sounds, says Dr Andrew Bell from the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University.

In a paper published in the Journal of Hearing Science, Dr Bell suggests conventional models of hearing do not explain why contracting the muscles of the ear – which some people do voluntarily – can reduce sound by 30 decibels.

The answer, he says, lies in a discarded 19th-century theory that suggests the middle ear muscles work like a hydraulic pump.

This theory may explain why some people seem to have “tough” ears that are impervious to hearing loss while others are more sensitive, he says.

“The sound of an opera singer singing can be 100 decibels, so why doesn’t an opera singer go deaf?,” Dr Bell said.

“The explanation is that when an opera singer sings, the middle ear muscles contract.”

The middle ear consists of three tiny bones – including the smallest bone in the body – two miniature muscles and tendons.

“If you close your eyes tightly you’ll hear a fluttering sound and that’s your middle ear muscles at work,” Dr Bell said.

Under current theories of how the ear muscles work, the muscles and bones of the middle ear stiffen up in reaction to a loud noise, dampening sound waves that travel into the cochlea where fine hairs detect the vibration.

“Obviously [the bones and muscles of the middle ear] have got some sound control function because they’re activated when the sound gets loud,” Dr Bell said.

“But that doesn’t quite tell you about the fact that when you close your eyes or activate your middle ear muscles you can get a 30-decibel or 1,000 times change in the amount of sound that goes through.

“If you do the model of how that process works in terms of sound conduction, the best you can get is about 100 times. So that doesn’t quite seem to be a good explanation of what is going on,” he said.

Hydraulic ‘pump’

Instead, the pressure theory proposes the middle ear muscles work like a hydraulic pump, pushing the last bone into the cochlea and increasing the pressure of the watery fluid that fills it. In turn, that pressure squeezes the sensing cells inside and reduces their sensitivity.

Dr Bell says better understanding of this mechanism could help prevent hearing loss.

“We might be able to find ways of making the middle ear muscles more activated. Even if you’re chewing or singing along to music you’re actually doing something that might encourage middle ear muscle activity that might give you more protection than otherwise,” he said.

It is an issue he says is very important in an age where use of mp3 players is causing hearing loss but people do not heed the warnings.

“Jimi Hendrix sounds awesome when it’s loud and people don’t want to turn it down,” he said.

“Here we have the middle ear with this natural inbuilt protective mechanism.”

“I think it’s worthwhile to open up the question and see what all the options are given that things are going to get steadily worse if we don’t do something.”

In the meantime, Dr Bell advocates taking precautions such as limiting exposure to loud music and using over-the-ear ear phones with noise cancellation instead of bud-style ear phones to help prevent hearing loss.

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

Act before Dec 31st and you could gain €520!

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton announced in her Budget 2012 speech during the week changes to the Treatment Benefit Grant for hearing aids. Most people thought the grant would disappear altogether so it’s good news that the department has kept the grant for qualifying clients. However the frequency of the grant for hearing aids will change from 2 years to 4 years. The maximum grant available for one hearing aid will change from €760 to €500 and from €1,520 to €1,000 for two hearing aids. These changes come into place in January 2012. So you have until December 31st. Your hearing aid audiologist can explain your grant entitlement and if you don’t delay you may be able to take advantage of the currant scheme which could be worth up to €1520. Act now and you could stand to gain €520. For further information contact your local Hidden Hearing branch or call our freephone number 1800 370 000.

Stress can more than double the instance of Tinnitus

Researchers believe that there is a direct link between tinnitus and stress.

Tinnitus is more than doubly prevalent in persons who are under stress or are burnt out than in other people. This is shown by a study from The Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

In the study, the test persons were exposed to stressful situations, for example answering questions while at the same time being interrupted. After the test, blood tests were taken as were new hearing tests. The blood tests tested for levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which is activated in stressful situations and animal tests have shown that cortisol affects hearing.

“We found that tinnitus is 2.5 times more prevalent in people who are under long-term stress,” says Professor Barbera Canlon, who was one of the people leading the research.

Perceiving sound poorly

There was also a clear tendency showing that sound recognition and the ability to perceive spoken numbers in noise was worse in the group of stressed subjects than in other people, says Barbera Canlon.
According to Barbera Canlon, this is the first time that it can be proven that long-term stress has an effect on hearing.
“It is important to consider long-term stress and the risk of burnout when treating tinnitus and over-sensitivity to sound,” says Barbera Canlon.
The researchers surmise, that tinnitus and stress react together in that stress can lead to tinnitus and tinnitus can lead to stress. If you have any questions about Tinnitus contact your audiologist at Hidden Hearing.

Source: Used by permission of  www.hear-it.org