Can Super-Fast Hand Dryers Damage Your Hearing?

If you are reading this, then you probably suspect what the answer may be. Sadly, your suspicions would seem to be correct – it would seem that yes, the relatively new “super-fast” hand dryers can indeed negatively impact your hearing.

A recent study has suggested that the new models of hand dryers can have a fairly severe effect – they can have the same impact on your hearing as a pneumatic drill at close range would.

How Have They Passed Safety Testing?
It would seem as though they have successfully got through the typical barrage of safety tests simply via inaccuracies in the testing conditions – the product testing labs are significantly larger than your typical public toilet, and as such the final results were almost irrelevant.

Various researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London carried out this study, testing the acoustics in a lab of a “box shape” typical of public toilets. The results of this new study carried some startling findings: the noise levels recorded were eleven times as high as the ones reported by the product testing labs!

The head of the Goldsmiths sound practice research unit, Dr John Levack Drever, claimed that the difference in results was down to the “ultra-absorbent” acoustic lab environments, and how greatly they affect the noise in comparison to the real-life outcome in a public toilet. This latter environment would see the noise being “vastly amplified” due to the “highly reverberant and reflective” surroundings.

What Can Be Done to Correct This?
Dr Levack seems to think that the answer is simple: ditch the laboratories. To get a more realistic approach – one that is applicable to a real world scenario – they need to conduct their tests in a more realistic environment.

Levack states that users need to come together with engineers and sound artists in order to “tune the products accordingly”, so that they make less noise in the typical hand dryer locations.

What Is So Bad About Loud Noises?
Apart from the obvious things like deafness, the noise levels given out by these hand dryers cause some other negative effects.

Some of these effects are less apparent because they affect minorities instead of the population as a whole. For example, elderly sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from discomfort and confusion caused by the noise, whilst people who are blind or have impaired vision can experience greater difficulty in navigation. Because the noise can reach such overwhelmingly loud levels, users of hearing aids are sometimes forced to turn off their devices whilst using a public toilet.

And of course, prolonged exposure to loud noises can lead to a degradation in the ability to hear.

The Effects of Hearing Loss
The effects of hearing loss are legion, and they are varied. A recent study has linked people who are hard of hearing with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and other effects can include a feeling of isolation, depression, decreased enjoyment in social activities and a lack of awareness. The latter problem can be particularly serious in potentially dangerous situations, such as crossing the road.

Of course, the worst thing about losing your hearing is the obvious one – you can no longer hear. No one wants to go deaf. Try and limit your usage of super-fast hand dryers if you can.

With over 25 years’ experience in hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing is committed to providing the most professional hearing healthcare service to its customers. 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 your MOBILE can give you hearing loss … not to mention a saggy jaw and acne.

 

 

According to Which? the average handset has more germs than a toilet

More than a third of us own a smartphone and, on average, will look at it a barely believable 150 times a day

But have you ever considered what this is doing to your health? Here, we reveal how our favourite gadget can damage our bodies.

DAMAGING YOUR HEARING

Playing music through headphones too loud can cause noise-induced hearing loss, which can make it difficult to hear speech, especially when there’s background noise, many standard-issue headphones don’t fit the ear properly resulting in a leakage of sound, so we feel we have to turn up the volume. 

The solution: Bespoke headphones, but even then, always keep sound levels as low as you can and don’t listen for too long. Hidden Hearing  recommend the 60/60 Rule to protect your hearing – that’s listen to your personal music device through headphones for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60% of the volume

RUINING YOUR EYES

If your eyes feel sore after staring at your phone, you won’t be surprised to learn that focusing on a small object for a long time can cause dry eyes, which can lead to inflammation and infection. 

Even more worryingly, phones could be affecting children’s eyesight in the long-term. Mr Allon Barsam, a consultant opthalmic surgeon at Luton & Dunstable University Hospital, says it is possible that youngsters who stare at screens all day could be near-sighted as they grow up.

‘People only notice this when they can’t read a newspaper, but we tend to hold phones far closer to our eyes than papers — around 10in away as opposed to 16in — so it’s becoming a problem sooner. While smartphones aren’t necessarily damaging our  eyes, they are demanding more  of them.

The solution: Enlarge the size of the text on your phone, and to avoid glare, try to use your phone in a well-lit room and don’t use it for more than 15 minutes at a time.  

SQUASHING THE SPINE

Our smartphones are changing our posture. ‘Our bodies are a product of what we do on a daily basis,’ says Kirsten Lord, a chartered physiotherapist.

‘I now see far more people with pain in their neck or shoulders. We tend to poke our heads forward when we’re reading something on a phone or tablet. This position squashes the top of your spine and compresses the nerves that go up to your head. The result can be headaches and feeling tired and stiff.’

The solution: Invest in a hands-free kit. Kirsten also advises trying exercises to lengthen your neck muscles, such as imagining a string pulling you up from the middle of your head to help you improve your posture.

GIVING YOU SAGGY JOWLS

Excessive phone use could change the definition of your jawline. ‘I’ve seen an increase in the number of women in their 30s concerned about weakness in the lower third of their face,’ says cosmetic dermatologist, Dr Sam Bunting. 

‘As we age, our skin’s elasticity decreases and it’s feasible that bending our neck forward for hours on end to look at smartphones and tablets may mean there is more of a downwards tug on the delicate skin.’

The solution: Try holding your phone or tablet straight out in front of you, rather than below chest level, so you’re not constantly looking downwards.

CAUSING SPOTS

Considering how hot phone screens get after a long call, it’s no surprise that some experts are concerned they can give you pimples or sweat rash. 

Which? magazine carried out tests on a sample of 30 mobile phones and discovered that, on average, a handset had 18 times more harmful germs on it than the flush handle in a men’s lavatory.

The solution: If you’re prone to spots, use a hands-free kit and wipe your phone with a saline solution. 

STOPPING YOU SLEEPING

Computers, laptops, tablets and phones tend to give off a blue light, thought to interfere with the natural hormones, such as melatonin, which help us  to sleep. 

The solution: Research from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona suggests that dimming the brightness settings on your phone and holding it at least 14in from your face while using it will reduce its potential to impede sleep. Better yet, buy an old-fashioned alarm clock and leave your phone outside your bedroom at night. 

RUINING RELATIONSHIPS

We might think our phones facilitate communication, but studies suggest otherwise. ‘Technology can make it hard to manage boundaries in our lives,’ says Dr Emma Short, a psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire.

‘So if we’re on our phone, we don’t give our full attention to those we’re physically with. Research also suggests the more engaged we are in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, the more lonely we can become as family, friends and work relationships suffer.’

The solution: Have a strict rule that there are no phones at  the dinner table or when you’re out socially.

With over 25 years’ experience in hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing is committed to providing the most professional hearing healthcare service to its customers. 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.

‘Most Beautiful Act Of Kindness’: Harry Styles Leaves Deaf Fan In Tears During One Direction Concert

The heartthrob made the youngster centre of attention

Harry Styles may be one of the world’s biggest heartthrobs but he also has a heart of gold judging by an eyewitness account which claims that the ‘Best Song Ever’ star focused all his attention on a deaf fan during a One Direction concert recently, leaving her in tears.

The 19-year-old and the rest of his band mates performed at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Illinois over the weekend on their ‘Take Me Home’ tour and while he had thousands of fans to entertain, Harry was more bothered with making one supporter in particular feel like the most special person in the audience.

A student named Tera witnessed Harry’s sweet gesture and documented the evening in a blog, describing it as the “most beautiful act of kindness.”

 “Across the aisle from my mom and me there was this deaf girl and her friend, and they were dancing to the music and “singing” along by signing out all the lyrics. And during one of the songs  after a  solo, Harry bows down in front of the girl and signs/mouths ‘thank you.’”

Tera continued: “As the show went on, Harry would keep looking over at her and copying her sign language as best as he could,” before adding that the young fan “just cried and cried.”

With over 25 years’ experience in hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing is committed to providing the most professional hearing healthcare service to its customers. 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.

New device helps the blind see through sounds

blindsight2Today’s Irish Independent has an interesting article about a revolutionary new device that helps the blind “see through sounds”.  The vOICe sensory substitution device trains the brain to turn sounds into images, allowing people to create a picture of the things around them.  Researchers at the University of Bath say The vOICe could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially sighted people.

The latest synthetic vision technology allows you to see with your ears and is turning our understanding of the senses upside down.

Claire Cheskin used to love in a murky world of grey, her damaged eyes only seeing large objects if they were right next to her.  She could detect the outlines of people but not their expressions, and could just about make out the silhouettes of buildings, but no details.

Nowadays things are looking distinctly brighter for Cheskin. Using the vOICe, which translates visual images into “soundscapes”, she has trained her brain to “see through her ears”. When travelling, the device helps her identify points of interest; at home she uses it to find things she has put down, like coffee cups. ”

As if the signposting of objects wasn’t impressive and useful enough, some long-term users of the device like Cheskin eventually report complete images somewhat akin to normal sight, thanks to a long-term rewiring of their brains. Sometimes these changes are so profound that it alters their perceptions even when they aren’t using the device.

As such, the vOICe (the “OIC” standing for “Oh, I See”) is now proving invaluable as a research tool, providing insights into the brain’s mind-boggling capacity for adaptation.
A team from the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology asked blindfolded, sighted participants to use the device while taking an eye test.  Results showed the participants – even without any training with the device – were able to achieve the best performance possible.
Dr Michael Proulx, who led the University of Bath team, said: “This level of visual performance exceeds that of the invasive technique for vision restoration, such as stem cell implants and retinal prostheses after extensive training.
“The affordable and non-invasive nature of The vOICE provides another option. Sensory substitution devices are not only an alternative, but might also be best employed in combination with such invasive techniques to train the brain to see again or for the first time.”

If you’re worried about you or your hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2

Parents advised to act as quickly as possible on hearing loss

children-in-classroomRecent research revealed that children with mild bilateral hearing loss (defined as having hearing threshold in between 26-40 dB ), if not diagnosed and intervened early, would miss up to 50% of speech sounds which may result in significant communication and learning difficulties, lack of energy and shorter attention span. Affected children may also have behavioural problems and poor self-esteem.  These children are often misunderstood as not paying attention in class as they cannot hear instructions clearly.   The impact of mild hearing loss on children should not be overlooked and appropriate intervention would help to alleviate the adverse impact.

The research assessed 35 children aged 6-8, of whom 83% (29) suffered significant language impairment or speech delay; about half of the children (17) said that they had difficulties in listening during classes and one-third of them had difficulties in learning and coping with school environment. None of them found it easy to listen in class. Over 85% of the teachers (30) observed the listening problem of these students, and that the problem affected their academic performance, communication and attention span, while the impact on their class participation and behaviour in school is relatively smaller. Most parents of the affected children thought their kids could hear almost all the words with occasional misunderstanding; over 40% of the parents observed that their kids had to pay extra effort to listen and understand.

Preliminary findings of the research supported that children with mild bilateral hearing loss could benefit from appropriate intervention at schools. As remarked by the teachers, the students’ academic performance, concentration and communication were improved after four months of intervention.

If you’re worried about you or your child’s hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2

Apple patent reveals new design of in-ear headphones that automatically drop the volume if not worn properly

listening to music

 
Apple has filed a patent for a pair of headphones that automatically adjust the volume of music if they’re not inserted far enough into the ear. The tech company has been criticised in the past for the headphones it sells with iPhones and iPods because they ‘leak’ music, meaning a listener’s tunes can be heard by people around them.  

Designs for the in-ear headphones, also known as earbuds, in this latest patent have a built-in microphone that can assess how much much music is leaking and adjust the volume accordingly.

According to the patent, the buds could track variations in the seal between the speaker section of the earbud and the wearer’s ear canal. If the earbud is not inserted far enough, the microphone will realise the seal has been broken.

The buds will then either warn the listener through an on-screen message, or automatically adjust the volume.The microphone can also listen to ambient noises and increase the volume if the wearer is in a loud environment. This adjustment additionally means the earbuds will better fit people’s different sized ears.

The patent was filed earlier this month to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office and it will need to be approved before Apple can begin working on, and ultimately selling, the device. It said: ‘The speakers in earbud headphone are encased in earbuds.

Hidden Hearing  recommend the 60/60 Rule to protect your hearing – that’s listen to your personal music device through headphones for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60% of the volume.

 
 Commenting on the news of the patent, Hidden Hearing audiologist Keith Ross said, “ As a result of years of listening to personal music devices at very loud volumes, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people sometimes as young as 30 suffering from hearing loss which you might expect a person aged over 70 to have. Our advice is to take care of your hearing and if you or your family or friends suspect you have a hearing loss to get your hearing checked today. Hearing screenings are free at Hidden Hearing’s branches or mobile hearing clinic.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2356717/Is-Apple-finally-launch-decent-pair-headphones-Patent-reveals.html

Is Hearing Loss Related to Teeth Grinding?

teeth-grinding-health-400x400Teeth grinding is a common oral condition classified as Bruxism. It doesn’t often cause serious harm however, chronic cases of teeth grinding can have some serious repercussions.  Not only can it end up damaging the teeth, but it can also cause a number of other health complaints.
One of the more worrying problems is tinnitus, which causes a ringing in the ears and is linked to hearing loss. If you suspect this, it is advisable to see an audiologist and get your hearing checked.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 65 branches nationwide.
Sometimes teeth grinding motions are known to be accompanied by a temporary hearing loss.  A recent study conducted by the University of Ioannina in Greece has found a link between bruxism, and hearing loss.  The study involved 464 healthy Greek university students (156 men and 308 women) and found that there is a high correlation between grinding your teeth and suffering from tinnitus.  The condition can be induced by the constant grinding noises that persist through the nights in several cases.  The intensity of constant noise can have a resultant effect of dysfunction in the hearing abilities.  On the other hand, the severity of the teeth grinding can also lead to extreme stress in the muscular as well as the bone mass in the region.  When the teeth grinding motions – involving forceful forward and backward movement of clenched teeth – is intense, the condition can cause inflammation in the areas around the ear and result in symptoms resembling hearing loss, ear aches, or abnormal sounds in the ear.
Luckily, there are all sorts of ways in which you can stop grinding your teeth. One of the easiest ones is to simply visit your dentist and ask for a mouth guard – this will fit over your teeth (usually the bottom set) and you’ll wear it while you sleep.
Because stress and anxiety are common factors in causing you to grind your teeth, reducing them can stop you doing it. Try starting a regular exercise programme or enquiring about muscle relaxants.
Other things you can do are to cut back on caffeinated products like cola and coffee, and cutting out alcohol. Unnecessary chewing should be avoided (biting pencils or chewing gum), and you can also try relaxing your jaw muscles with a warm cloth before bed.
In most cases, hearing loss caused by teeth grinding is of a temporary nature.  However, if you are worried about your hearing make an appointment with an audiologist at your local Hidden Hearing branch.
If you’re worried about hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2