Half of Dubliners exposed to dangerous decibels

DUB Dublin - bus stop in front of Clerys department store on O Connell Street 3008x2000Noise-induced hearing loss is an increasingly prevalent disorder that results from exposure to high-intensity sound. According to a recent study by Dublin city’s local authorities more than half of Dublin’s population is exposed to undesirable noise levels.

Although preventable, it can sometimes be difficult to avoid as we are exposed to excessive noise levels doing routine activities on a daily basis. Of the 1.28m people living in Dublin, 56% are affected by noise emanating from heavy road traffic, aircrafts or trains.

The findings are contained in a new mapping action plan which is designed to identify and quieten the capital’s noisiest neighbourhoods. Dublin’s four local authorities are working together on the map, which will take five years to complete.

The number of people exposed to undesirable night-time noise levels above 55 decibels reduced from 94% in 2008 to 22% in 2012, but 1% or 3,700 people still suffer night-time sound levels above 70 decibels.

In the day time, 46,800 Dubliners are exposed to levels above 70 decibels. A further 12,600 put up with noise levels over 75 decibels. This is down from 24,000 in 2008.

The Noise Action Plan will run from December 2013 to November 2018, and includes efforts to address heavy traffic flow in the loudest neighbourhoods.

In 2008, the first noise map of Ireland singled out the M50 as the worst noise polluter in Dublin, exposing nearby residents to a din as loud as a twin-engined jet at take-off.

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.

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.


  • 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

Doctors report 50% hearing loss among mobile phone users

Blog picWe’ve spoken before about the harmful effects of MP3 players to hearing but doctors in India are now reporting as much as 50% hearing loss among mobile phone users.


ENT surgeons have been getting many patients who complain of pain in the ears and even hearing loss.  The most common complaint is that after people hang up the phone their ears gets hot and many patients also complain about tinnitus (ringing in the ears).


But the most serious ENT problem is hearing loss.  If a person continues to use the phone excessively, it may turn into a permanent problem.  Hearing loss depends on the decibel level of sound and the duration for which one is exposed.


The advice is to decrease the amount of time spent talking on the mobile phone, use a landline instead or text.  Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide.   Freephone 1800 370 000 or http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.




Got an earful? Here’s some advice on ear wax removal

Ear wax removal at Hidden Hearing is performed by a Hearing Care Professional

Ear wax removal at Hidden Hearing is performed by a Hearing Care Professional

Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is a waxy substance secreted by glands which line the ear.  It is a naturally occurring substance in the ear canal and helps to keep ears healthy and prevent infection.  In most cases, ear wax works its way out of the ear on its own however, if it is blocking the ear canal and causing hearing loss, pain or discomfort it may need removing.


Only a professional can determine whether earwax should be removed so don’t attempt to remove earwax at home, even with remedies that promise to be safe and effective.  Doing so risks damage to the ear canal and, possibly, your hearing.  It’s important not to use a cotton swab, a finger, or anything else to poke inside the ear because of the risk of damaging the delicate ear canal and eardrum, or packing the wax in even further, which could cause infection.


Hidden Hearing offers a free ear wax removal service to persons over 60 years of age and at a special discounted rate of €50 for those under 60.  Check www.hiddenhearing.ie for further details.


Do not use a cotton swab to remove ear wax as doing so may cause damage to the ear canal

Do not use a cotton swab to remove ear wax as doing so may cause damage to the ear canal

The procedure is performed by a Hearing Care Professional who has received specialist training in both ear irrigation and dry mopping from Aston University in Birmingham.


Speaking about the service, Hidden Hearing Marketing Manager, Dolores Madden said: “We are delighted to be offering this service to our customers as we see a lot of people in our clinics with ear wax build-up.  In many cases, an aural issue will not be hearing loss related, but simply a build-up of too much ear wax.  However, if left untreated excessive ear wax can cause hearing loss and interfere with a hearing test or the use of a hearing aid.  Until now the options have been expensive costing up to €60 but now Hidden Hearing offers a free solution for over 60s and a discounted rate for those under 60.”




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.

Helping my Father with his hearing problem

Staying Healthy

By Edel Rooney

In association with Hidden Hearing

My father’s hearing is deteriorating and he is finding it difficult to hold conversations and always keeps the TV volume at a level that drives my mom mad. What can I do to help?

senior man and daughterHearing loss is an integral part of growing older, as is failing eyesight. But for some strange reason people have no problem getting glasses to help them see properly again, yet many resist getting aids to improve their hearing.

As you mention, you’ve already noticed some of the early indications of hearing loss: turning the TV and radio up loud, not responding when called, asking people to repeat themselves or even odd answers to questions.

Hearing loss is a serious issue. Not only are there safety issues (hearing warning alarms and announcements) but everyday tasks can become more difficult, such as hearing the phone ring or the timer on the cooker. Others in the household can get incredibly frustrated having to repeat themselves all the time, having to shout or being ‘ignored’ when in reality the other person just hasn’t heard them. As a result tensions can run high leading to all kinds of relationship issues.

The first thing is to get a medical check to determine the cause of your Dad’s hearing loss. It’s likely to be age related but it should be confirmed there’s no underlying medical condition. However, it could be the case that he has a build-up of ear wax or an infection which can easily be remedied, restoring or improving her hearing quickly.

If the hearing loss is permanent there are things you can do to help the situation. Others in the household must adapt their behaviour to allow for your dad’s condition. That means making sure he can see your mouth when talking. If he’s engrossed in some other activity make sure you get his attention before starting to talk to him. Speak normally but clearly and don’t be afraid to ask him if he has understood you fully.

Try to ensure that ‘white noise’, all the background noises most of us filter out automatically (radios, other people talking, washing machines, etc) is kept to a minimum when talking to your father.

While old style hearing aids not only amplified the sound the wearer wanted to hear but much of the ‘white noise’ too, newer models provide a much better experience. For example, with some devices, you can tune directly into your TV or phone.

You can also ensure your father has a television which incorporates sub-titling so he can continue to enjoy her favourite programmes. In large gatherings it can be impossible to catch conversations with several people talking at once. If it is not possible to get the group to talk one at a time then someone in the family should make a point of sticking close by your father to repeat information, but only if you can see he is struggling. Or try and arrange social engagements with only a handful of people at a time.

If something is really important, write it down clearly and make sure he reads it.  Or if it is important information about medications, make sure he gets his doctor to write it down.

When introducing your father to new people, let them know he has a hearing problem and ask them to speak up and clearly.  You can do this in a matter-of-fact manner, not making an issue out of it, but above all don’t let your father be embarrassed about the condition. As a society we should be breaking the taboo of admitting to the natural ageing process that is hearing loss and that will only happen by talking openly about it.

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

Understanding Usher Syndrome

Ushers-SyndromeAs part of a series of blogs looking at hearing related conditions, this week we will look at Usher Syndrome.

Usher syndrome is characterised by hearing loss, visual problems and problems with balance. The visual problems are due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, in which the retina slowly degenerates and gradually loses its ability to send images to the brain, resulting in a progressive loss in vision.

There are at least three types of Usher syndrome. Type 1 (USH1) and Type 2 (USH2) are the most common and account for up to 95 per cent of children with the condition.

  • Type 1: the child is profoundly deaf from birth. Hearing aids are usually of little help and sign language is used for communication. There are also severe problems with balance, so a child may be slow to sit unsupported and is often late learning to walk. Visual problems have usually started to develop by the age of ten – difficulty seeing in reduced light at night is often the first symptom. Deterioration in vision may be rapid and lead to complete blindness.
  • Type 2: the child usually has moderate to severe hearing problems from birth. Balance, however, is normal. Hearing aids may allow the child to cope within mainstream school and most can use speech and lip-reading for communication. Vision deteriorates more slowly than with Type 1, and problems may not begin until early adult life.
  • Type 3: hearing and sight are normal at birth, but both deteriorate at a rate that varies from person to person. Problems are usually evident by late teens, and by the time most people with Type 3 have reached their 40s they’re blind and have complete hearing loss.

Causes and risk factors

  • Between three and six per cent of all children with hearing difficulties have Usher syndrome. It affects about one in every 25,000 babies born in developed countries.
  • Usher syndrome is a genetic condition, inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion. This means a child will only develop the condition if they inherit two genes for it, one from each parent.
  • In most cases, each parent only carries one Usher syndrome gene, so they don’t have the condition and are often unaware they’re a carrier.
  • A number of different genes have been found that may contribute to Usher syndrome. These normally help the retina in the eye and the cochlea in the inner ear to work properly. In children with the condition, one or more of these genes is faulty.

Treatment and recovery

  • There’s no cure for Usher syndrome, but the earlier it’s diagnosed, the more can be done to help children lead as normal a life as possible.
  • Hearing aids and other communication technology, cochlear implants and specialised support at school may all help the child adjust to their disabilities.
  • Counselling may be helpful, particularly regarding future careers. Genetic counselling is important for the individual’s future plans for a family and for the rest of the family, too.
  • Gene therapy looks increasingly promising as a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, but it’s still many years away.

Hidden Hearing and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind recently announced a partnership which will see Hidden Hearing sponsor the training of a Guide Dog to help assist an individual who is blind, vision impaired or may have Usher Syndrome.

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.

For more information on Usher Syndrome see: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/usher.aspx

Age-related hearing loss linked to a protein-producing gene

Age-related hearing loss starts messing with the volume

Communication is key to the human experience. Laughter. Sadness. Anger. Love.

Sound is the way most of us receive life’s narrative. That is, until age-related hearing loss starts messing with the volume. High-pitched voices get harder to understand; phone calls are more difficult to decipher. The stories become muddled. Frustration grows.


There are many reasons why hearing loss and deafness happen. Loud noise, illness, medications such as hormone replacement therapies, all can play a part in a person’s losing the ability to process sounds. Aging, however, remains a leading contender.

“It’s really something that affects every family with older relatives,” says Dolores Madden, Audiologist and Marketing Manager with Hidden Hearing.

It took nine years to complete a University of South Florida formal study, but last month the Universities Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research linked age-related hearing loss to a protein-producing gene in the inner ear. Mutated versions of the gene make the ear unable to translate sounds into nerve impulses interpreted by the brain.

People with a family history of hearing loss now can be tested — and warned — years earlier if that one gene isn’t just right, says the USF study, published in the journal Hearing Research in October.

The research also takes a significant step past what’s already known about how aging changes the inner ear. That includes the understanding that older people should be concerned about damage or death to the tiny hairs inside the ear, which are essential to catching sound waves.

Also, this knowledge might nudge some to take more care with their hearing earlier in life. They might decide to wear headphones while mowing the lawn, or avoid standing too close to speakers at a rock concert. “If you do know, you can take more precautions,” Madden says. ” The earlier someone is diagnosed and treated for hearing loss, the better, for all concerned. Hidden Hearing offer FREE hearing evaluations and it is fast and simple to do.”

If you have any hearing loss issues contact Hidden Hearing online or Freephone 1800 370 000.