Strimmers are worse than motorway traffic

strimmers

Motorway maintenance workers are exposed to various harmful emissions. Surprisingly, motorised hand-held tools such as strimmers and chainsaws, rather than motorway traffic, are responsible for the highest emissions of particulate matter. These are the conclusions of a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

The study was conducted between May 2010 and February 2012 by researchers working with Michael Riediker at the Institute for Work and Health in Lausanne. They accompanied 18 maintenance workers on 50 working days during tasks such as clearing snow, mending crash barriers, cleaning drains, cutting wood or mowing grass on the motorway central reservation. They measured the levels of air pollution, particulates and noise to which workers were exposed during each activity. The result: compared to the average population, maintenance workers are exposed to between three and eight times higher particulate levels. In addition, noise levels often exceed the critical level of 85 decibels.

Surprisingly, motorway traffic is not the main source of noise and pollutants. More than 50 percent of airborne particulates are emitted by strimmers and chainsaws. The small combustion engines which the workers carry on their backs use petrol with oil additives. This makes them real belchers,” says Reto Meier, the lead author of the study. The quickest way to reduce particulate levels, therefore, is to improve the engines in these machines. This is primarily a challenge for the manufacturers, but Meier adds that employers can also play a role by considering emission levels when purchasing equipment.

Hearing protection
Maintenance workers are exposed to the highest noise levels when using pneumatic drills. But the use of strimmers or chainsaws and the traffic during maintenance work in tunnels also give rise to noise levels of 90 decibels or more. Researchers noticed that workers wear hearing protection reliably when they are the cause of the noise, but often fail to do so when the noise is caused by their colleagues or by the traffic.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

Hero Pupdate!

Puppy Hero

Paws 4Last year we proudly sponsored Hero the Hidden Hearing sponsored Guide Dog, read below on her training progress so far.

 

Once Hero and her siblings have passed the initial tests, they are homed with a volunteer Puppy Walking family, at approximately eight weeks old. Here Hero will live and learn the basics before coming back for her formal training to become a guide or assistance dog. 

Puppy Walking is a term we use to describe the vital process of preparing puppies for their future career as guide or assistance dogs. Hero will remain with her Puppy Walking family for 12 months.

When Hero first arrives in her new home with it is important that her Puppy Walker gives her plenty of encouragement to help her to adjust to her new surroundings. At this stage, the basics of house training is reinforced and developed further. Daily walks are introduced and as the Hero grows these walks will be extended. At Twelve weeks Hero receives her vaccinations, which means she can go to noisier public places. It is very important that Hero learns to socialize with family, pets, friends and house visitors as well as new people they meet while out and about. This will help her confidence to grow so that public, busy places will not faze her. Hero must also get use to travelling in cars and even use public transport such as trains and buses. As hero gets bigger her trips out and about become longer and more frequent.

Hero 2 Hero 1

 Hero will attend Puppy Walking Classes during which Puppy Walking Supervisors will assist Hero’s Puppy Walker with training and any issues that might arise. Hero will also have twelve home visits during the year from her Puppy Walking Supervisors. Which are important to monitor her progress and deal with any queries that the Puppy Walker has.

At six months Hero is well settled she should now knows basic commands such as ‘sit’ ‘stay’ and ‘down’ commands as well as relieving herself on the command ‘busy’.  Although she is progressing well, she is still very young and needs to mature further.  She responds well to the whistle when free-running which is essential from her possible future owner’s point of view, as they might not have a level of sight good enough to see where she is. She also waits for the whistle before tucking into her food. Her Training Supervisor monitors her behavior, temperament, health, size and overall development carefully.

Although Hero is very busy her first year, learning and developing it is also important that each day she be given time to play. Play is very important part of her development as through play Hero is also learning. Play will help her develop her strengths and improve her weaknesses and also help her grow in confidence.

After twelve months with her Puppy Walker the time comes for Hero to say goodbye, it is time for her now to start to join the Early Training Unit.  

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

hearing loss can cause a strain with loved ones, but there is hope

seniorHearing loss is much more common than most people realize. In fact, it is such a prevalent condition that only arthritis and hypertension affect more people. If left untreated, the consequences of hearing loss can be severe and greatly impact the quality of life and personal relationships of those affected. Worst of all, it can end up hurting you and the ones you love.

Whether you are a spouse, or a friend of someone with hearing loss, coping with the condition can be difficult. Communication may become greatly hindered, causing you to speak and share less with your loved one. It can also lead to less involvement in social activities and increased feelings of depression or sadness.

“Before my husband found the right treatment for his hearing loss, we found ourselves leaving early from social events or declining them altogether,” says Ann Mahon of her relationship with husband Tom. “Hearing all day at work and then again on the weekends for social events was too tiring for Tom.” “Once Tom got his hearing aids there were immediate changes in his ability to hear and in our ability to participate in everyday things that most people take for granted,” says Ann. “We now enjoy socializing, going to concerts and have even made some new friends. Tom is also involved in playing golf again and is able to read stories to our granddaughter. He says he has ‘gotten his life back’ and that’s true for me as well.”

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

3 steps to combat hearing loss

carpenter-hearing-loss-thumbnailairport-staffAn estimated 275 million people across the globe can’t hear clearly all the sounds they love. These people suffer from hearing loss, which the World Health Organization lists as the No. 1 sensory disability in the world.

Some people never had their hearing, as they were born deaf, but the majority had something happen along the way that took it from them. Infectious diseases like meningitis, measles, mumps and chronic ear infections, as well as head and ear injuries, and aging all can contribute to hearing loss.

But perhaps the most common cause is excessive noise. Whether it’s a one-time exposure to an intense, “impulse” sound, like gunfire, or by repeated exposure to loud sounds over time, like machinery at work, noise has the potential to rob people of their hearing.

The effects of hearing loss extend well beyond having to turn up the television. It strains a person’s ability to understand conversations, which can cause problems and misunderstandings at work and at home. Hearing loss also leads to isolation from family, friends and the environment.

“The good news is noise-induced hearing loss is preventable,” says Dolores Madden of Hidden Hearing. “So many people could be spared from it, if they just took a few easy steps.”

Step 1: Wear hearing protection

The most important step to preventing hearing loss is to wear hearing protection.

“There are many great hearing protection options, but sometimes it’s a challenge to know which to choose and how and when to wear it correctly,” says Madden. “Hearing protection is now available that is comfortable, fits well, and includes options to enhance communication – like microphones and two-way radio connections for people who need them.”

Step 2: Be mindful around the clock

Sounds louder than 85 decibels (dBA) are more common than people might think. Prolonged exposure to these high-level sounds can permanently damage your hearing, and cause ringing in the ears, along with other symptoms. Most people don’t carry decibel meters, so it’s good to know where those sound levels can occur. Some examples include:

* Attending a football game (100 to 120 dBA)

* Using a leaf blower or chainsaw (95-120 dBA)

* Riding a motorcycle (80-110 dBA)

* Using a lawn mower (82-103 dBA)

* Attending a rock concert (90-120 dBA)

* Listening to a personal music player (75-114 dBA)

* Watching a movie at the theater (72-104 dBA)

Hearing these sounds occasionally, for a limited time, isn’t a major threat to hearing. But repeated exposure to loud sounds can cause hearing damage over time. Many people – like mine workers, police officers, construction workers, farmers and others, work in noise that is 85 dBA or higher every day on the job. As a result, noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases and the second most self-reported occupational illness, according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Step 3: Reduce the volume or increase distance

Work-related noise might be unavoidable, but many times, you can be in control of the noise around you. Whenever possible, select quieter vacuums, chain saws, leaf blowers, power tools, etc. Also, be aware that the volume controls on portable entertainment devices can exceed 110 dBA – levels that may be hazardous if you listen for many hours a day. Lower the volume and limit how long you listen to them. If you aren’t able to turn down loud sounds you encounter, take a few steps back from the source of the loud sound. Even a few feet of distance between you and a loud sound can lower the decibel levels that hit you.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

Avoid The High Cost Of Hearing Loss

Breaker905Many cases of hearing loss are due to excessive noise. With power tools, motorcycles, movies, lawn mowers and music players capable of producing noise levels above 85 decibels (dB), there is no shortage of sounds that put hearing at risk. Prolonged exposure to noises louder than 85 dB can damage your hearing permanently.

“Too many people are losing their hearing because of noise exposure,” says Dr. Laurie Wells, an audiologist in 3M’s hearing protection business. “Noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible and costly—and not just to your pocketbook, but more importantly, to your overall well-being. Hearing loss negatively affects the most fundamental need we have as humans: the ability to communicate with each other. Evidence suggests that people who suffer from hearing loss are less social and more apt to report depression and anxiety.”

Protection Is Key

The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable. People can significantly reduce their noise exposure by wearing hearing protection, avoiding repeated exposure to loud noises, and participating in hearing loss prevention programs at work.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

How to talk to loved ones about hearing loss

20090914-mother-daughter-290x218Hearing problems can make it challenging to live your daily life. It may be hard to have conversations with friends, family and coworkers, and can even cause embarrassment and frustration. For some, hearing loss can even be dangerous if it becomes difficult to hear alarms or other warning signals. While it may seem obvious to seek medical attention for hearing loss, many people wait years before getting hearing aids. Here are a few ways to take charge if a loved one is suffering from hearing loss:

Small steps

The first time you have a conversation with a loved one about hearing loss, chances are they will not immediately respond by seeing a hearing practitioner. They may be experiencing denial or believe that their issue does not require attention.

Begin by creating awareness about the ailment and having conversations about symptoms and solutions, they can become more comfortable with what is going on and what needs to happen.

Ask them about what instances cause them the most trouble: Talking on the telephone, watching television, how their hearing fairs when there is background noise. Allowing them to realize on their own that hearing loss is affecting various aspects of their life can be very motivating.

Don’t chastise them

Use the word ‘I.’ If you are referring to ‘their’ problem, it can come off as distressing and it increases the chance that someone will shut down and refuse help. Have a conversation with your loved one about how the issue is affecting you and other family members, but do this in a way that won’t cause them to become defensive. For example, show your concern about them enjoying a child or grandchild’s company before they get too old.

Create positivity

Many people have negative feelings toward hearing aids, but you can create awareness and bring positivity to the situation. For example, you can tell a story about a close friend, relative or coworker who has had a great experience with hearing aids. Better yet, ask that individual to have a conversation with your loved one that is suffering.

Being able to hear well has been shown to decrease dementia and brain atrophy and relieve symptoms of depression and isolation. Talk to your loved ones about the things they will gain with help from a hearing device.

Encourage them to be proactive

During your conversation with a loved one about hearing loss, talk about all the things he or she can enjoy to the fullest with the help of hearing aids. Discuss hearing nutrition, new technologies and community-oriented engagement with your loved one as well. The more they learn about hearing aids, the more comfortable they may be with seeing a hearing aid professional.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

Move it or lose it!

sb10067362g-003.jpgWe continue our series on health and wellbeing with an article about how to maximise your strength, endurance and flexibility through regular exercise.

Despite the excuses, there are many reasons to incorporate exercise into your daily life.

According to the HSE, whatever your age, there is strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.

The HSE recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, or in other words 30 minutes a day, most days.  ‘Moderate intensity’ means exercise that raises your heart and creates some shortness of breath, but still allows you to talk comfortably.

There are three kinds of exercise:

  1. Balance, mobility and flexibility, such as Yoga and Tai Chi.
  2. Endurance, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling, which encourage your heart and lungs to work more efficiently.
  3. Strength training such as using light weights at the gym.

Tips:

  • Don’t think of exercise as an ‘add-on’.  Think of it as a regular and enjoyable part of your daily life.
  • Strength training increases muscle mass, which is good for managing insulin levels.  It also boosts bone strength, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • If you can combine two or more kinds of exercise in each session, or throughout the week, you’ll see benefits more quickly.
  • Anyone over 40 should see a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Exercising needn’t cost the earth.  Many gyms have Pensioners’ discounts.  You could consider swimming at your local pool, or enquire with your local council about walking groups in your area.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie