Summer can be harmful to hearing

the_week_in_pictures_18-slide-27With summer in full swing, many people across the country are enjoying the warmer weather.  Summer conjures up images of long sunny evenings, splashing around at the beach and music festivals.  It can however, be one of the noisiest seasons and many summertime activities can pose a threat to your hearing health.  Here at Hidden Hearing we’ve put together some top hearing health tips to protect your ears during the sunny season:


Weed out bad habits in the garden

Gardening is a big activity at this time of year and power tools are one of the most prevalent devices.  They’re also hazardous to hearing health.  Lawn mowers have a sound of above 90 decibels whereas a power saw can produce a sound exceeding 110 decibels.  Whatever power tools you are using be sure to wear proper ear protection when using them.


Music Matters

Summer music festivals and concert tours swing into action as the weather heats up.  That means sweet sounds but also stress of the ears.  Take precautions before you head to the venue.  These include carrying earplugs and noise-dampening headphones, as well as avoiding standing next to the loud speakers at the side of the stage.


The plane truth

Up to one in three airline passengers suffers throbbing pain in the middle ear, a dullness of hearing, or a feeling of ‘fullness’ in the ear canal on takeoff or landing. Most ear pain when flying results from changes in cabin pressure.   For a comfortable trip suck on a sweet, yawn to keep your Eustachian tube open, stay hydrated and avoid falling asleep.


Don’t let swimmer’s ear dampen your summer fun

Swimmer’s ear is a common but painful summertime ailment.  Before taking the plunge remember these simple steps: wear a swimming hat to cover your ears and make sure ear canals are clear of water after swimming, bathing and showering by drying your ears with a towel or tilting your head to each side to allow water to escape.


Be proactive about hearing health

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



Keeping those tag rugby injuries at bay

tag_rugby_2012_week_8_0044_okKeeping those tag rugby injuries at bay

By Alison Quinn

I’m thinking of taking up tag rugby as a fun way to keep fit and also meet people. But I’m a little worried about picking up injuries. I’m never really played team sports before. Any advice?


Tag rugby is now one of the biggest participation sports in Ireland and with mixed teams and a social element also attached; it has become very popular with both men and women, young and old, regardless of their interest in rugby.

For the uninitiated, tag Rugby is a non-contact sports with players wearing velcro shorts, to which are attached two ‘tags’, when one of these is pulled off you have been tackled and have to stop!

Great fun and great exercise.

However, despite being a non-contact sport tag rugby, like any sport, is not without injury-risk for the players. Certainly injuries of the shoulder, neck and back would be less common than in contact sports but that is not to say that injuries do not occur.

With a lot of running and quick changes of movement comes the risk of twisted ankles, twisted knees and muscle strains. The ‘tag’ element of the game, which replaces the contact of full rugby, ironically introduces its own specific range of hand and finger injuries. The range of injuries is quite broad with regard to tag rugby and this is the same for all sports involving running with a lot of twisting and turning.

Tag rugby includes quick starts and stops so there is always a risk of straining muscles particularly the hamstrings. The hamstring acts as a brake when slowing down from a fast run. This type of injury may occur suddenly and be felt as a sharp pain in the back of the thigh usually requiring the player to come off the field. Alternatively it may occur over a period of time from fatigue. In this case the player may be able to play on but they notice that their speed isn’t what it used to be.

Players can also experience cramping in their calf muscles which can be a result of a number of factors; from a lack of proper hydration to simply inflexible calf muscles.

Injuries that are specific to tag rugby include wrist and finger injuries. If the ‘tag’ is not pulled firmly there is a danger of one of the fingers, usually the little finger, catching against the clothing of the opposition and causing a sprain or even a fracture. If the ‘tag’ is missed, a player can fall on an outstretched hand which can result in a wrist sprain or fracture.

As with all sports, some injuries are due to bad luck and cannot be avoided but there are some handy tips to keep your injuries to a minimum during your season.

Most players have been sitting at a desk before they play their match, so ensure you warm up before play to increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare the body for activity.

Muscle strains and joint sprains can occur when the body has cooled down and then has to increase activity quickly. Jog a few laps of the pitch before the game and very importantly before the next round of matches. Injury can occur when there is a bit of fatigue from a previous game coupled with a cool-down period. A warm-up as described above is generally better before exercise than a stretching regime.

Stretch at the end of your tag rugby evening to improve the range of motion in the joints and muscles. The type of stretches needed depends on what muscles tend to be tight and varies from person to person. You should only stretch until you feel a slight pull in the muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat one to three times.

As for grabbing hold of those elusive ‘tags’, try to take a firm grip of the ‘tag’ in order to minimise getting some of your fingers caught in the opposition’s clothing.

Finally, if you are going into a tag rugby season with an old injury that has not resolved or you are aware of a recurring weakness, it is worth getting the area assessed by a chartered physiotherapist who will guide you through appropriate rehabilitation in order that you get the most out of your game.


Alison Quinn is Head of Physiotherapy at the Sports Surgery Clinic

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


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

Hidden Hearing – ‘Investing in excellence’ with a new training centre in Citywest, Dublin

130218_N1_037-(2)At Hidden Hearing we are committed to providing you with the best hearing healthcare possible, which includes recruiting, training and providing continuing education for our team of audiologists and hearing aid dispensers, whose job it is to assess and advise the best options for your hearing health.

With this objective in mind, we have designed a state-of-the-art training centre at our headquarters in Citywest, which is the leading training centre for audiology in Ireland, featuring the latest equipment and technology.

We are recognised as a leader in education and advanced training and we have a policy of staff undertaking continuous training courses, involving the very latest in audiological data and research.  Our professional and experienced training team provides theoretical and practical knowledge not only on issues relating to the ear and hearing loss, but testing and fitting techniques, the latest technological improvements, methodologies for improving hearing aid performance as well as broader knowledge such as interpersonal communication and customer service.

A special emphasis is placed on continued professional development to ensure that Hidden Hearing audiologists and dispensers are kept abreast of new technologies and advancements in hearing healthcare. We fly in specialists from around the world to deliver lectures and discussion forums on all aspects of hearing health.

Through our new high-tech facilities, we can ensure that our team has the expertise, training and experience needed to provide not only the most technically accurate evaluations, care recommendations and hearing aid fittings, but the most satisfying patient-care experience too. So you can be sure that when you have a consultation with a member of the Hidden Hearing team, you’re speaking to a hearing healthcare expert with the highest standard of training.

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




How to clean your hearing aid

Oticon-hearing-aids2A hearing aid consists of several parts, most of which should be cleaned and maintained regularly to ensure they perform at their optimum levels. With a minimal amount of daily care, they should provide you with quality services for years to come. 

Your Hidden Hearing audiologist will give you detailed instructions on how to care specifically for the make and model you’ve purchased, but there are a few general care tips to keep in mind.

  • Before cleaning a hearing aid, a towel should be put down to create a soft surface to clean over, this ensures that if you drop anything the impact will be small.
  • When handling your hearing aid, be sure your hands are clean.
  • For a Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid, the mould should be removed from the hearing aid and placed in lukewarm soapy water to clean, before being dried thoroughly afterwards – ensuring it is clear of water.
  • For In-the-Ear (ITE) models, they should only be cleaned with a gentle wiping of soft tissue and careful brushing with the supplied brush. Wax build up can be removed from the hearing system using a cleaning loop and wax spray remover. For an ITE hearing aid, water and solvent should never be used to clean the device.
  • For both ITE and BTE models, it is important to never use pins or needles to remove wax from the device.
  • Keep your ears clean and free from earwax. This yellow substance can clog the microphone and receiver, blocking the sound to your ear.  Hidden Hearing offers a free ear wax removal service for over 60s so talk to your local branch about making an appointment.
  • Apply any hair products – such as sprays or gels — and face creams before you put your hearing aids in for the day. If you wash your face with a cleanser at night, take your hearing aids out before you do. These materials can clog the microphone and may also be damaging to the plastic material.
  • When your hearing aids are not in use, store in a safe place that’s dry and cool.  Always carry the hearing aids in their case to protect them from damage and dirt. 

At Hidden Hearing, we pride ourselves on providing a level of service which is second to none.  If you have any queries on how to clean your hearing aids talk to a Hidden Hearing audiologist.  Hidden Hearing has 65 branches and clinics nationwide.  Freephone 1800 370 000 or check out

Hearing loss: a silent occupational hazard

Air traffic controllerOccupational hearing loss is in the news this week as firefighters in Pittsburgh are suing truck manufacturers saying that they’ve lost their hearing because of sirens that are too loud. The men range in age from 38 to 62 years old and they claim the excessively noisy sirens caused irreversible hearing loss.

Studies of hearing damage to firefighters have long shown noise-induced hearing loss. In 2007 a study by University of California said roughly 40% of all firefighters in the United States are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

However, the problem is not just limited to firefighters in the US and is a real issue of concern for workers all over the world.  Occupational hearing loss is the most prevalent industrial illness in Europe, with 35 million people exposed to detrimental noise levels.

Noise is an annoying, often hazardous part of the workplace and workers can be exposed to dangerous decibels in jobs as varied as construction, bar work, motorbike couriers, airport ground staff and farm hands.  According to Hidden Hearing exposure to noise levels above 85dB for over 60 minutes at a time can lead to irreparable hearing loss.

But the good news is that we can protect our hearing and take simple steps to prevent possible damage or further damage.  One good way to protect your hearing is to wear earplugs when you are exposed to loud noise.  Wearing earmuffs is another good way to protect your hearing.  Earplugs and earmuffs come with a ‘noise reduction rating’ or NRR.  Be sure yours have an NRR of at least 25.

The case of the firefighters is a good reminder of the importance of hearing protection especially in noisy work environments. If you believe you are experiencing noise-related hearing loss from your job you can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide.  Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit to consult with a local audiologist to diagnose your problem.

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