Hearing is delicate and susceptible to irreparable damage, even from everyday activities and environments that you might not consider to be a threat.
The theme of Deaf Awareness Week 2020 is ‘acquired hearing loss’, so we are sharing some simple things you can do to protect your hearing from environmental factors.
1. Avoid loud noises
Most people are aware that places like nightclubs and rock concerts can do damage to your hearing, but there are many loud noises in everyday life that can also cause problems. Things like lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, drills, hairdryers, or lots of traffic can all create a very loud environment.
It’s sensible to become familiar with the decibel levels of everyday activities and sounds and use the chart below to check what kind of risk they might pose.
2. Use soundproof ear protection
If you are ever exposed to loud environments - at work, at home, or during leisure activities - consider wearing soundproof ear defenders or earplugs for the duration of your exposure to the loud sounds.
3. Limit how often you listen to loud music
Listening to loud music through headphones and earphones can do damage to your hearing. Only listen to music at a volume that feels totally comfortable and try to avoid turning the volume up any higher than 60 per cent. Take regular breaks and try not to listen to music through headphones for any longer than an hour at a time.
4. Know the warning signs
It can be helpful to identify some of the warning signs that you’ve been exposed to unhealthy noise levels.
If, for example, you notice you aren’t able to hear as well as you could before, or if there is a ringing or buzzing in your ears, you might need to take a break from any loud noises and consider getting your hearing checked.
5. Ear care
Like any other part of your body, it is important to take good care of your ears and hearing. By getting an annual hearing check-up with an audiologist, you can keep on top of how your hearing is doing and catch any potential issues early.
Never stick anything into your ear canals – including cottons buds or a finger.
Be vigilant and if you ever notice a change in your hearing, seek advice from an audiologist as soon as possible. Like most health issues, the quicker you act the quicker you can avoid things getting worse.
Give your ears a rest. By staying away from any loud noises as much as you can, your ears can rest and recover, which is important in maintaining good hearing health.
If you have behind-the-ear hearing aids, clean the hearing aid surface with wet wipes that don’t contain alcohol. This is because they are coated with a hydrophobic coating that is sensitive to alcohol
For in-the-ear hearing aids, all kinds of wet wipes can be used for cleaning the hearing aids’ surface. The cleaning guidelines are also applicable for EduMic and ConnectClip
An alternative to wet wipes is cleaning with a mild soap solution on a hard-twisted cotton cloth. Avoid using excess water that can enter the hearing aids
After cleaning, discard the gloves and wash your hands carefully with soap and water or disinfect with a suitable alcohol disinfectant
Leave your cleaned hearing aids to dry for one hour
Taking temperature in your ear If you or someone else need to take the temperature in your ear, we recommend that you remove your hearing aid first. Having the hearing aid in the ear while taking the temperature in the ear may result in not showing the correct temperature.
Keeping your hearing aids clean
A hearing aid consists of several parts, most of which should be cleaned and maintained regularly.
How to Clean behind-the-ear hearing aids
Your ear canal produces earwax, which serves the important purpose of protecting and lubricating your ear. But wax buildup is one of the main causes for hearing aid repair, because wax clogs up the sound outlet and/or the ventilation opening, resulting in weak, distorted sound or absence of sound.
Your hearing aids are an important investment and have been designed to be both reliable and durable. Use a few minutes each day to clean them. Most hearing aids come with a filter or other device to stop wax getting into the hearing aid.
Cleaning the speaker unit and shell
As a general rule, clean your hearing aids each day with a soft, dry cloth. Make sure your hands are clean and dry before handling your aids.
The speaker unit in receiver-in-the ear hearing aids (RITE models) should be cleaned on a regular basis using a cloth to rub off any earwax. The domes (silicone tips) that cover the speaker units should not be cleaned, but instead replaced at least once a month.
Wax build-up is one of the main reasons why hearing aids need repairing. Clean your hearing aids to ensure that they keep doing their job.
Your ear canal produces earwax, which serves the great purpose of protecting and lubricating your ear. But wax build-up is one of the main reasons why hearing aids need repairing, because wax clogs up the sound outlet and/or the ventilation opening, resulting in weak, distorted sound or absence of sound.
Your hearing aids are an important investment, and they have been designed to be both reliable and durable. Take a few minutes each day to clean them. Most hearing aids come with a filter or other device to stop wax getting into the hearing aid. Check the wax filter and replace it if necessary.
Cleaning the in-the-ear hearing aid
Use the cloth to wipe the surface of the instrument clean. Watch the instruction video on how to clean the shell.
Here are a few checks you can do yourself to keep your hearing aid working optimally:
First, try changing your battery for a new one or charging your hearing aids if they are rechargeable.
Next, check that there are no blockages to the sound outlet:
If you wear a RIC (receiver in the canal) hearing aid, check the dome is clean and free of wax. If it requires a change, remove and discard it and replace with a new dome from your pack. See this instruction video for guidance
With the dome removed, check that the wax filter in the speaker port is also clear of wax and debris. Follow the instructions in this short video to change the filter if required
If you wear a hearing aid with an earmold, check that your earmold tubing is clear. Follow these instructions to clean your mold
If you wear a custom in the ear hearing aid, follow these instructions to change your wax filter
Contact your provider to send you filters, domes, batteries or cleaning kits in the post should run out.
If after all of those maintenance check are completed and your device is still not working, contact your provider by phone or email. They may need to send your aid in for repair and will be able to guide you on the best and safest way to get your device to them during these times of social distancing.
Although our clinics are not running, we will be making every endeavour to support you and we thank you for your patience and loyalty. We can provide support over the phone, we can post you batteries and any other consumables you may need, and should your hearing aid need repairing, we are working with manufacturers to provide a postal repair service. We will contintue to post news, updates and information on our website and on our Facebook page so look out for our articles of interest online.
Please take care of yourselves and stay in touch,
Best wishes from the team at Lakeland Hearing.
Lakeland Hearing Ltd is an authorised dealer of all major manufacturers of Hearing technology.
‘Hearing for life: don’t let hearing loss limit you’.
Lakeland Hearing Ltd campaign.
On World Hearing Day 2020, We will highlight that timely and effective interventions can ensure that people with hearing loss are able to achieve their full potential.
It will draw attention to:
At all life stages, communication and good hearing health connect us to each other, our communities, and the world.
For those who have hearing loss, appropriate and timely interventions can facilitate access to education, employment and communication.
Globally, there is lack of access to interventions to address hearing loss, such as hearing aids.
Early intervention should be available and encouraged.
Hearing loss is often termed “the hidden disability” and this is accurate to a point. Yes, it is not visible, it doesn’t show up on a person’s body. However, look a little deeper and the tell-tale signs of an untreated hearing loss are noticeable. A gradual withdrawal from social occasions, an unwillingness to join in, a sense of isolation and frustration. Having a hearing loss can have a major impact on people’s lives and mental health. Despite this, hearing loss is often not given the same respect or empathy as other disabilities. To take a different disability for example blindness, most of us would agree that to become visually impaired, only seeing certain colours or certain shades would be awful. There would be no jokes. Yet when it comes to hearing loss, “clean your ears out” or “have you got those hearing aids switched on?”, are jokes that many people experience. These quips lead them to feel they are a nuisance; their difficulties are not important and perhaps they should just keep quiet and not draw attention to themselves.
However, this need not be the case, appropriate and timely intervention can help access communication. Good hearing health can connect us to each other and our communities.
World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March 2020 has the theme ‘Hearing for life: don’t let hearing loss limit you’ and here at Lakeland Hearing we agree. Don’t keep quiet a hearing loss, come and see us.
Find out what we can offer and how we can help, let us take the strain out of hearing and book an appointment today on 01539 234180.
Remember remember to protect your hearing this November
With Bonfire Night fast approaching you may be planning on attending an organised display with your family and friends, or holding your own event in the back garden.
Fireworks are great fun to watch but they can be noisy, so it’s important to think about protecting your hearing at this time of year.
In the UK the legal limit for fireworks is 120dB, which is 35dB above the level of noise when hearing damage can occur. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before hearing loss can happen. And at 120db it only takes minutes to risk permanently damaging your hearing.
The best way to protect your hearing at a firework display is to wear some good fitting earplugs. And for younger children, ear defenders are highly recommended. Keep your distance from fireworks, firecrackers, speaker systems and other sources of loud noise.
If you remember one thing this November make sure it’s this - avoid noises that are “too loud” and “too close” or that last “too long.”
Meteorological autumn started on Sunday 1 September and lasts until Saturday 30 November. As the weather gets colder, you should try and take extra care of your hearing aids.
Unless you’re working outside for many hours in the freezing cold, it’s highly unlikely that your hearing aids will be affected by the low temperature. The real problem is caused by the condensation which occurs when you go from being outside in the cold, to coming inside your warm and cosy home.
It’s easier than you think to work up a sweat when you’re outdoors in the autumn, especially if you’re doing something active like clearing leaves from your drive, taking part in sport or even going for a brisk walk. Unless you’ve got a water-resistant hearing aid, moisture can be its worst enemy. Humidity, perspiration, condensation or accidentally dropping your hearing aid in the sink or shower can; ruin the microphone and receiver, clog the earmould tubing and sound outlet and cause corrosion.
Here are some signs your hearing aid may have been damaged by moisture:
Your hearing aid cuts out during loud noises
Your hearing aid stops working, then suddenly begins working again
Sound seems to fade, or come and go
Sound is accompanied by static
Sounds are unclear or distorted
If you have any of these problems with your hearing aids, turn them off and remove the batteries. Since many of these problems can be caused by batteries which need replacing, try putting in some new ones. Remove any moisture from where the batteries touch the hearing aids with a dry cotton swab first. Check to make sure the earmould and sound outlet aren’t clogged with wax and the tubing isn’t frayed or cracked.
If your hearing aid still doesn’t work, you could try:
Buying a hearing aid drying kit or dehumidifier and following the directions
Putting it on newspaper to air-dry for at least 24 hours
Sealing your hearing aid in a plastic bag containing 190g of uncooked rice - rice can work like a dehumidifier and soak up any water from your hearing aid
Use a fan or hairdryer on its lowest setting - do not use high heat
If your hearing aid isn’t working after trying one or more of these suggestions, get in touch today.
Four common places where you should protect your hearing
October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. This month-long campaign is a great reminder that preventative hearing health care is just as important as treating existing hearing loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition facing adults in the US, and one in every four Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by both one-time exposure to a brief and intense sound, known as an “impulse” sound, and by continuous exposure to loud noise over a long period of time.
You can measure the ‘loudness’ of a particular sound by its decibel level (dB). A dB of 85 and above can cause noise-induced hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it takes to develop noise-induced hearing loss.
Everyday environments can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss. It’s important to be aware of the average decibel levels that surround you on a daily basis. You may not even know some places could be putting your hearing at risk.
Let us help you out! Here’s a list of four everyday environments that may cause noise-induced hearing loss, and some tips on how to protect your hearing:
If you live or work in a city, you can be exposed to anywhere from 60 dB to 110 dB of sound. Police and ambulance sirens are a common culprit. New York City, America’s largest city, has begun a five-year study to monitor the sounds of Manhattan in an effort to identify unhealthy noise levels.
As scientists learn more about noise-induced hearing loss, they can work together with city employees and planners to create a safer hearing environment for all who work and/or live within city limits. There are even innovations being tested out, such as “quiet concrete” in Texas!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. In fact, nearly one in five US workers has been exposed to hazardous workplace noise. Careers like construction or public transit can be really hard on the ears. Even classical musicians can be exposed to decibel levels that are too high for too long.
The solution? Wear proper hearing protection, such as industrial grade ear plugs or muffs, and try to limit your exposure to loud noise outside of your workday.
Surveys from Zagat and Consumer Reports have identified excessive noise as one of the top complaints from diners. One article from The Atlantic stated that noise levels were anywhere from 80 dB in a dimly lit wine bar at dinner time to 86 dB at a food court during brunch to a whopping 90 dB at a brew pub during a Friday night happy hour!
Here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to places to dine -- if you need to shout so the person across the table from you can hear, you’re likely being exposed to too much noise.
Looking for the perfect date night venue, but worried about being able to hear your partner over the dinner rush din? There’s an app for that. SoundPrint is available on your smartphone and lets you explore quiet venues in your city through lists found on the app. The lists are curated by other people who want to protect their hearing. Don’t see you favorite quiet place on the app? You can add it to help others!
Greg Scott, SoundPrint's founder who has hearing loss, created the app when he wanted to discover where the quieter venues were so he could hear his dates.
"Finding quieter venues has gotten more difficult over the years as venues are playing background music at higher levels than before, and design their restaurants to be places of entertainment as opposed to places to enjoy the food and connect with companions,” said Scott. “As a result, noise levels at many venues have risen to the point where they can potentially endanger the hearing health of patrons and venue employees. When you take a measurement and submission on the app, you are essentially putting the venue on notice that you care about the noise levels and want them to mitigate it."
Keeping the lawn pristine can come at a price! Lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, electric saws for home improvement projects, and leaf blowers can all expose you to up to 100 dB noise. Whether you’re pushing your mower or sawing wood for a new garden shed, be sure to wear protective hearing gear.
Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable
The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, but it’s up to you to protect your hearing by limiting your exposure to loud sounds, wearing protective hearing gear, and using tools to navigate hearing safety zones and find quieter venues to live your life to the fullest.
Hearing loss happens. It’s the third most common health problem for older adults in the U.S., after arthritis and heart disease. Hearing loss is also very treatable — and more beneficial when treatment is started early. If you suspect you have hearing loss, here are 11 reasons why you should schedule a hearing test and find out for sure.
A hearing test is painless, usually free, and should take less than an hour of your day.
Untreated hearing loss increases your chance of developing dementia.
Treating hearing loss early — on the other hand — is one of nine things you can do to help reduce your risk of dementia.
Hearing loss may be an early warning sign or red flag for other health conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
If your hearing test shows your hearing is normal, you can say “I told you so” to all the people who said you should get your hearing checked.
The Mayo Clinic recommends regular, baseline hearing tests for adults.
Untreated hearing loss increases your chance of falling.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids has been proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.
Untreated hearing loss is known to contribute to depression and social isolation.
Hearing loss treatment is associated with delayed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, anxiety and injurious falls.
Being proactive about your hearing health today will reap immeasurable benefits tomorrow!
Think you may have hearing loss? Get in touch today.
Remember your last pair of new shoes? You try them on in the store, they fit well and they feel fine. But then, by the end of the first day that you wore them all day, your feet were sore, there were rub spots, and at some point during the day you wished for your old shoes. Remember?
It can be the same when you first start wearing hearing aids. You are aware of them on your head or in your ears, your ears may itch, sweat or just feel different with the hearing aids on, and by the end of the first day, you long for your ears to be free again.
That’s a totally normal reaction. So let’s talk about the different ways to adjust to the physical fit of the hearing aids, things you can do to ensure their comfort, and realistic expectations for wearing hearing aids.
The hearing aid style matters
There are two basic styles of hearing aids: those that fit over the ear (called “standard”) and those that fit in the ear (called “custom”). Let’s start with those that fit in the ear.
Custom hearing aids are molded to fit in your specific ear. Having something in your ear for the first time can feel strange. But if you have physical discomfort, pain or a rub spot, you should tell your hearing healthcare professional right away. Many times, the professional can modify the aid right in the office and check the physical fit for you.
For standard hearing aids, you’ll have a piece that goes behind your ear, which is then connected to an ear bud that goes in your ear. Ear buds come in multiple sizes. If the bud is physically uncomfortable, your hearing healthcare professional can change the size of the bud to find one that is more comfortable. Your professional may recommend a custom mold for your device to provide more comfort and a more secure fit than an ear bud.
Some people initially react to the device being behind their ear or the tubing/wire that comes down into their ear. Your professional can make sure that the tubing/wire is the correct length and can modify the shape to have it fit more securely and minimize rubbing.
Give yourself time
Like new shoes, it takes a little time getting used to hearing aids. Being aware of their presence on your ears can be disconcerting. The best way to adjust is to wear the aids as much as possible. You should wear your hearing aids six to eight hours per day. Wearing them less than that will not allow you to become “used” to the feel of them.
If the hearing aids are uncomfortable as soon as you put them on, make sure they are inserted correctly. Remove the aids and reinsert. Many people find putting the aids on in front of a mirror allows them to see if they are on are correctly. Some people will put a small amount of baby oil over the opening of the ear to allow the hearing aids to slip in more easily. It is important to use only a small amount and keep the oil away from the openings in the hearing aid.
If your ears itch from wearing the aids, check with your professional about using a product like Miracell. Miracell is a liquid that can be placed on the ear bud or mold to decrease the itchy feeling inside your ear. Your hearing professional can show you how to use it without damaging your hearing aids. It is very important to use it correctly or the speaker of the hearing aid could be damaged.
Set realistic expectations
The reality is that you do have something in your ears, so feeling them there is normal. But if you give it time and break them in, not feeling them should be normal in just a month or two. If you encounter any concerns, let your hearing healthcare professional know right away. They can adjust them, provide additional tips, and try alternatives with you.
Over 50 million Americans experience tinnitus — or ringing in the ears. When you first realize you have tinnitus, it can be difficult to know what to do. Here is a starter list of dos and don’ts for people dealing with tinnitus.
Do talk to a hearing health professional if tinnitus is affecting your ability to sleep, read, concentrate or take part in normal activities.
Do realize that every person responds to tinnitus differently. There is no right or wrong way.
Do avoid anxiety and/or stress as it can aggravate tinnitus.
Do look at apps and equipment that can help at bedtime to make falling asleep easier.
Do know that tinnitus can be managed even if it cannot be cured.
Don’t believe what you read about tinnitus being cured by herbs or supplements. Management via sound therapy and even hearing aids are two of the most highly recommended ways to treat tinnitus.
Don’t forget that tinnitus can be a symptom of something else, so it is important to have it checked out by a professional.
Don’t forget about things that can aggravate tinnitus like caffeine, lack of sleep, stress, and even aspirin.
Don’t think you are alone! One in six people deal with tinnitus.
Don’t forget about hearing protection! Loud sounds and environments can trigger tinnitus and make it worse.
In short, yes, earwax can cause hearing loss. But it doesn’t occur as commonly as one might think. In fact, very few patients who are seen by hearing healthcare professionals have hearing loss that is literally due to excessive earwax (cerumen impaction).
More likely, the patient has experienced a gradual decline in their hearing over time and the hearing loss has become enough that the patient is starting to have difficulty communicating with others. It is when communication starts to become effected that people seek help.
What, you might ask, causes cerumen impaction? Anything that affects the normal outward flow of ear wax may cause impaction, such as advanced age, narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals, use of a hearing aid, incorrect use of cotton swabs, or using needles, hair pins, or other objects to clean the ears. (PSA: Do not stick anything in your ear to clean it!)
Total earwax blockage is rare
What is important to know here is that soundwaves only need a tiny opening in the ear canal to reach the eardrum. So, unless the ear canal is plugged tightly with earwax, there shouldn’t be noticeable hearing loss. When cerumen impaction is severe enough to cause hearing loss, there will likely be other signs and symptoms noticed, such as dizziness, ear fullness (a feeling that something is plugging up your ear), itchiness or pain in the ears and/or ringing in the ears. Rarely does cerumen impaction occur without additional signs that “something is wrong.”
Hearing professionals can help remove excessive earwax
The good news is that hearing loss caused by cerumen impaction is easily treated. It is within a hearing professional’s scope of practice in most states to perform cerumen removal in the office. If your hearing loss is as simple as having your ears cleaned, GREAT! If not, visit a licensed hearing professional and you will be in the right place to accurately uncover what might be causing your perception of hearing loss.
Research concludes wearing hearing aids may reduce the risk of dementia
A new study by the University of Exeter and King’s College London shows that people who wear a hearing aid for age-related hearing problems maintain better brain function over time than those who don’t.
This follows other important research which has shown that hearing loss is an important risk factor for dementia and that that wearing a hearing aid may mitigate that risk.
The PROTECT study, carried out by the two universities, surveyed 25,000 people aged 50 or over.
Both groups undertook annual cognitive tests over two years. After that time, the group who wore hearing aids performed better in measures assessing working memory and aspects of attention than those who didn’t. On one attention measure, people who wore hearing aids showed faster reaction times – in everyday terms, this is a reflection of concentration, for example, ‘straining to hear a sound’, ‘peering closely at an object of great interest’, ‘listening intently to someone speaking’.
The findings provide early evidence that encouraging people to wear an effective hearing aid may help to protect their brains and reduce their risk of dementia.
PROTECT lead Dr Anne Corbett, from the University of Exeter, said: “Previous research has shown that hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory and an increased risk of dementia. Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid, and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain. We now need more research and a clinical trial to test this and perhaps feed into policy to help keep people healthy in later life.”
Professor Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “We know that we could reduce dementia risk by a third if we all took action from mid life. This research is part of an essential body of work to find out what really works to keep our brains healthy. This is an early finding and needs more investigation, yet it has exciting potential. The message here is that if you’re advised you need a hearing aid, find one that works for you. At the very least it will improve your hearing and it could help keep your brain sharp too.”
Five tips for maintaining hearing aids in hot weather
With summer here, it’s a good time to remember that hearing aids, like most high-tech devices, are susceptible to excess heat and moisture. And while Starkey hearing aids are more durable than most — thanks to our proprietary Surface™ NanoShield moisture-repellent system — keeping these five tips in mind will help ensure long-lasting performance even as the temperatures rise.
Keep hearing aids stored in a cool, dry place.
Excess heat can harm the hearing aid circuit (the tiny computer chip that serves as the “brain” of the hearing aid). Excessive moisture can gather on the diaphragm of the microphone and/or receiver, resulting in the perception of a “dead” hearing aid.
Use a desiccant, hearing aid dehumidifier or “dry-aid” kit to keep moisture out of the hearing aids.
A desiccant is a moisture absorbing substance that is commonly found in dry goods such as shoes, clothes and electronics. There are inexpensive desiccant and dry-aid kits available from your hearing healthcare provider that are designed specifically for hearing instruments.
Store the desiccant in a sealed, dry place.
If the desiccant is exposed to the environment, it will pull moisture from the environment. Keeping the desiccant in a controlled environment will ensure the longest life possible of the desiccant.
If possible, keep the hearing instruments away from excessive perspiration.
As mentioned, excess moisture – including sweat – can damage hearing instruments. Starkey hearing aids can handle normal perspiration. However, if the hearing aids are exposed to excessive perspiration, it is best to remove them immediately and open the battery doors so that air can circulate through the hearing aids. Even better, place the hearing instruments in the desiccant kit you bought after reading tips 2 and 3!
Do not use any type of liquid to “clean” the hearing instruments – even alcohol.
Liquids are simply many moisture molecules clustered together. Therefore, liquids can damage parts of the hearing aids. To clean the instruments, wipe them down with a clean, soft cloth and store them in a place that has access to air flow.
For more tips on warm-weather hearing aid maintenance, talk to us today.
GN are celebrating 150 years of making life sound better this year!
Connecting the world
GN's ambitious journey has taken them from telegraph cables to radio waves and intelligent audio engineering. Today, their global mindset continues to facilitate communication for people worldwide.
A DIVE INTO THEIR HISTORY...
1869 The first to reach China
C.F. Tietgen founded the Great Northern Telegraph Company and used the Danish royal connection with Russia to build a telegraph through Siberia to the East. By 1871, GN opens the world’s first telegraph connection from Northern Europe to China – transforming international communication and trade.
1940s Reaching new wavelengths
After World War II, the world was changing. Moving beyond cable networks to wireless signals, GN invested in the development and production of a promising new system, FM radio communication – a massive leap into the future of global communications.
1960s Keeping people in touch
Before the era of mobile phones, GN made it easier to make calls with the drop of a coin. Payphones began to line city streets around the world and by 1991, GN had exported nearly 250,000 payphones to more than 35 countries worldwide – bringing people closer together.
THE HERE AND NOW...
Still connecting people
Today, GN continues to transform communication by providing intelligent audio solutions to millions of people worldwide. With over 6,000 employees and sales in 100 countries, we are helping people around the world hear more, do more and be more than they ever thought possible.
To find out more about GN and ReSound today, including ReSound's innovative hearing solutions, visit: www.resound.com
Jovi is a cheeky rock star - I can’t imagine my life without him
Graham Sage, 29, is a Year 4 teacher at Moulsford Preparatory School in Oxfordshire. He also plays for the England Deaf Rugby Union side and is their assistant coach. Graham’s hearing dog, a cocker spaniel called Jovi, has not only changed his life but has spread awareness of deafness and has helped to raise around £20,000 for Hearing Dogs.
Here is Graham’s story:
“Jovi is a cheeky little rock star and I can’t imagine my life without him.
“I began to lose my hearing at around 15 years old. At first, my hearing loss wasn’t noticeable as the environments I found myself in were relatively close quarters – small classrooms and the family home. It became more noticeable as I got older and my hearing deteriorated further.
“It wasn’t until I started university at 19 that I realised I couldn’t hear any of the lecturers in the larger rooms, particularly if I wasn’t close enough to lip-read. Upon realising that I could no longer hear or understand what the lecturer was saying, I went to get my hearing properly tested.
“My hearing loss is due to Meniere’s disease and is progressive. I also have constant pulsating tinnitus which makes things more difficult. Over the past five years my hearing loss has progressed quickly from moderate loss to being severe to profound. My grandfather had almost identical symptoms to me around the same age before going on to become completely deaf by the age of 40.
“Having grown up only ever knowing my grandfather as deaf and wearing hearing aids, the idea of me – a 20 year old at the time – wearing them was quite (and I’m ashamed to say it now) embarrassing.
“Having hearing loss can be pretty scary. I have always had a fear that if the house was being broken into, I wouldn’t hear it. I would be quite on edge and had to keep checking that the doors were locked.
“I would not hear doorbells or the smoke alarm when I was cooking. I would always have difficulties with alarm clocks in the morning, despite trying various aids. I would sleep badly in anticipation that I might miss the alarm and be late.
“I never really used to think that my hearing loss affected me socially but looking back now I can see that I became more introverted. The main reason being that I lip read a lot so in a social environment there were often lots of people talking or lots of different conversations going on at once. This requires a lot of concentration and as social activities tended to happen in an evening, after a long day, it became exhausting and I would end up zoning out. This wasn’t because I wasn’t interested or being grumpy; it was just difficult to keep up.
“My hearing dog Jovi has changed my life in so many ways. He has helped me to overcome some of my anxieties around interacting with other people, and his presence actually encourages interaction. I have had so many people come up to me and ask questions about him. When people find out he is my hearing dog they start to ask more questions. This has made me far more accepting and even proud of my hearing loss.
“I’m far more confident to go out and be approached by people when I’m with Jovi as they tend to be far more deaf-aware and try to make allowances for me. I also feel more confident when asking someone to repeat something, as I feel they will be more understanding and not think I’m being rude or haven’t been listening.
“Jovi gives me a greater feeling of safety. His presence when I’m home alone or out and about makes me feel more comfortable. This allows me to go upstairs or into the kitchen without worrying about missing a delivery or being broken into. I also sleep better knowing that Jovi will eagerly alert me to my alarm clock each morning. Before, I would have to rely on my wife Anna to wake me up. If she was away, I’d have to rely on multiple alarms and even a phone call from her. These may seem like small issues to some, but collectively they had a real impact on my daily life.
“Jovi’s non-contact alerts also make me aware of other sounds he may hear just by looking in their direction, such as traffic or people walking behind me in a street.
“Communication in our house used to be quite difficult at times, as Anna could struggle to get my attention. Now, thanks to Jovi’s amazing abilities, Anna can call him and ask him to ‘Go get Graham!’ and he’ll come and alert me and take me to her. This makes a far more peaceful and relaxing household.
“Looking to the future, if my wife and I were to start a family, it is comforting to know that Jovi can be trained to alert me to a baby’s cry and will add to the safety and security of the household.
“I work as a Year 4 teacher at an all-boys school and Jovi comes with me every day.
“When I first decided I wanted to become a teacher I found it really daunting, as I feared I wouldn’t be able to hear the children and other sounds I’d need to hear during the school day, such as fire alarms and school bells. I don’t need to worry about that now that I have Jovi.
“When I’m teaching, Jovi helps me by alerting me to a timer I set to give my pupils a specific time to complete work by. He also alerts me to the fire alarm, which is amazing. Before I had Jovi, a fire alarm went off when no one was in the classroom and I didn’t evacuate because I didn’t hear it.
“His sound alerts are fantastic. While we were walking on the back fields at school one day Jovi nudged me and lay down on the ground. I was so confused because he was acting really strangely. It was only when I got back to school and was told that I’d missed a fire alarm that I realised Jovi had been alerting me. Laying down is what hearing dogs are taught to do when they hear a fire alarm. We are around 1km from the school so I was amazed that he could still do his job that far away!
“Deaf awareness is important to me. Each new academic year I start off by teaching the children in my class to be more deaf aware. I try to give them a sense of what it is like to have a significant hearing loss. This helps them to pick up tips on what they need to do to communicate with me effectively, such as turning to talk to me so that I can lip read and not covering their mouths when they talk. These are skills that aren’t the easiest for eight and nine year olds!
“I’m very lucky because my employer and colleagues are all fantastically supportive, and Jovi’s presence has greatly increased everyone’s awareness of my deafness. The boys are great in class and have learnt to be clearer in their communication.
“The whole school has really got behind Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. We’ve managed to raise around £20,000 to help their work. One of my wonderful colleagues even ran the London Marathon in 2018 dressed as a dog to raise money and ended up breaking the Guinness World Record as the fastest female to run the London Marathon in a full body animal costume!
“The money we’ve raised also includes a big chunk brought in by one of our pupils choosing Hearing Dogs as the charity to benefit from an auction by the well-known band Belle & Sebastian. His mother was on the cover of one of the band’s albums, and they kindly asked her to ask her son which charity he wanted the proceeds to go. This raised over £14,000.
“None of this would be possible without Jovi.
“Outside of work, I love rugby. I got involved with England Deaf Rugby Union (EDRU) through playing touch rugby with a friend who plays for Wales Deaf Rugby. I told him I was losing my hearing and he said to get in touch with the coach at EDRU and send them my audiogram.
“I went to an open training session in 2011 and debuted against Wales a couple of months later, and we beat them for the first time in seven years. I was awarded man of the match. I was then offered the captaincy for the next international and when I stopped playing, due to a few serious injuries, I passed the armband over to my vice-captain, I am now backs coach and assistant coach.
“Jovi has been to training with me a number of times and loves watching from the side line. I’ve also recently been given the all-clear to play again and played, as well as coached, the England Deaf Rugby Union team in our most recent win over Wales Deaf Rugby.
“Deafness can cause barriers, but it shouldn’t have to hold people back if they have the right support. I would say to anyone who has any level of hearing loss and is struggling - try and seek help, even if it’s just talking to someone.
“Jovi helps me to lead a ‘normal’ life and I’m so thankful to him for that.”
It's been a busy few weeks for our clever hearing dog puppies, here's what they've been learning as they move one paw closer to helping a deaf person to leave loneliness behind.
1. Oshi had a family reunion with Otto at a Great British Dog Walk
Brothers Oshi and Otto instantly recognised each other when they were reunited at The Great British Dog Walk at Haldon Forest, Exeter.
It's really important that working hearing dogs get on well with other dogs, especially if their partner already has a pet or a retired hearing dog. Play dates like this mean we can make sure our puppies show all the signs of a happy, playful and calm playmate.
2. Cocker spaniel Blue passed the first stage of her hearing dog training
A round of a-paws to cocker spaniel Blue, who has passed the first stage of her training - the Puppy One Star. The next part of Blue's hearing dog training is to learn about the world around her by going on lots of exciting walks, practising good behaviour and getting used to interactions with people of all ages and other dogs.
3. We would have given you first place Chloe
Chloe's volunteer puppy dog trainer took her to a dog show for some practice socialising with other dogs and people. Not only did Chloe behave perfectly around all her friends, but she also took home third place. We think you were robbed though Chloe!
4. Alvin started 'big school'
Alvin has reached a milestone in his hearing dog training as he's started really focusing on his sound work. We call this stage of training the Puppy Four Star or 'big school' and Alvin will be learning all the important and life-saving sounds that his future deaf partner will need alerting to.
5. Rex took the train
Rex took the train for the first time and was a complete natural! The new sounds and movement didn't faze him at all and he was comfortable with the experience straight away. Well done Rex.
It's really important our hearing dog pups experience travelling on public transport before they become a hearing dog. If a deaf person gets a bus or a train to work, we want to make sure their new hearing dog is comfortable with this experience.
6. Dixon joined the Hearing Dogs team
A very warm welcome to eight-week-old yellow Lab puppy Dixon, who has just started his training to be a hearing dog. Dixon will spend the next 18 months growing, playing and learning all the skills needed to be a life-changer.
Communication can be a struggle for some deaf people, so we asked one of our hearing dog partners for some top tips on how best to speak with deaf people.
Our tips for communicating with people with a hearing loss
Always face a deaf person. Make eye contact and keep it while you are talking. Try not to look away or cover your mouth as many deaf people rely on lip reading to help them understand you.
Check noise and lighting. Turn off or move away from background noise. Make sure your face is not in shadow and there are no strong lights or sunshine in their eyes.
Keep your distance. Stand a metre or two away from the deaf person. This is important for hearing-aid users, lip-readers and signers.
Speak clearly, slowly and steadily. Don’t mumble, shout or exaggerate – it distorts your lip patterns.
Take turns. If there is more than one person in a conversation take turns to talk.
Repeat and re-phrase if necessary. Trying to say the same thing in a different way might help.
Write it down. Don’t be afraid to write or draw to help understanding.
And arguably one of the most important points to remember is to keep trying – even if a deaf person does not understand what you’re saying the first few times. So many of our partners have told us that when someone says ‘oh, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter’ it feels like they mean ‘you don’t matter.’ Even if it takes four or five times of rephrasing or even writing it down, don’t give up.
Lower hearing loss in chocolate eaters, but no sweet news for tinnitus sufferers
A possible otoprotective effect from one of our favourite foodstuffs has been highlighted by the results of the first large cohort study of the effect of chocolate on hearing loss in middle-aged people.
This mouth-watering research by a team led by Sang-Yeon Lee of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Seoul National University Hospital, surveyed a total of 3575 subjects from 40 to 64 years of age, concluding that "the rate of any hearing loss (unilateral or bilateral hearing loss) was significantly lower in the subjects who consumed chocolate (26.78%) than in those who did not (35.97%). In addition, chocolate consumption decreased the risk of bilateral hearing loss (13.31% vs. 20.32%) and high-tone hearing loss (51.58% vs. 63.60%), respectively.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients on March 30 this year, also showed an inverse correlation between the severity of hearing loss and the frequency of chocolate consumption.
It falls short, however, of defining causal mechanisms or to linking results to any particular type of chocolate. Its limitations also include that it offers no information on chocolate consumption among participants over 65. "Given the protective effect of chocolate on age-related hearing loss, the association might have been significant if older persons had been included," the authors say.
Another hypothesis of the researchers, that chocolate would protect against tinnitus, was unexpectedly not borne out by results. "Chocolate intake was not associated with tinnitus or tinnitus-related annoyance," say the researchers.
Earlier animal studies have already pointed to various compounds in chocolate protecting against hearing loss. Chocolate exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may provide some protection to the cochlea, which is especially susceptible to oxidative stress. Meanwhile, several studies have shown the causal relationship between vascular risk and hearing loss; cocoa, a major ingredient of chocolate, attenuates these risks by reducing blood pressure and improving endothelium-dependent vasodilation.
So, specifically which chocolate might be involved? Unfortunately, the researchers did not control the type of chocolate, dose, and duration of consumption. They point out, however, that milk chocolate and chocolate drinks reportedly do not exert a significant effect on health.
A randomized controlled study of the functional properties of chocolate is needed to establish causality, the authors comment.
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a gray, orange or yellow material made in the ear canal. It cleans and protects the ears from bacteria, dust, foreign particles, and microorganisms. In normal conditions, wax works its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally. However, when there is a build-up of wax, there are many ways to remove it. Some are safe, and some are not. Let’s review best practices for dealing with earwax.
Do understand that earwax is normal. If it does not block the ear canal or impede your hearing, it can be left as is.
Do know the symptoms of earwax build-up. These include decreased hearing, ear fullness, ringing in the ears, and changes to hearing aid functionality (distortion, etc.).
Do seek medical help if you experience a change in hearing, ringing, or fullness in your ears, and/or ear pain. Other conditions may exhibit symptoms like earwax build-up, such as ear infections. See a medical professional to rule these out if you experience any of the previously mentioned signs.
Do ask a medical professional prior to using at-home remedies to remove earwax. Certain medical conditions can make some at-home remedies unsafe.
Don’t clean your ears too much. Overcleaning can cause irritation or infection of the ear canal and can even cause the wax to build up.
Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Avoid using cotton swabs, bobby pins, keys, paper clips, etc. to clean or scratch your ears. These can cause damage to your ear canal — such as a cut, or even puncture of the eardrum — which can lead to many other issues.
Don’t use ear candles. Studies have shown ear candling does not reduce the amount of wax in individuals’ ear canals. Additionally, ear candling can damage the ear canal and eardrum.
Don’t forget to clean your hearing aids as recommended by your hearing healthcare professional.
As a busy Audiologist with over 26 years’ experience and running Lakeland Hearing a private hearing clinic, I have seen a lot of ears and a lot of ear wax. One of the most common questions asked is “How can I get rid of wax?”.
Well, a healthy ear does produce wax and for good reason; wax traps and dust or dirt that might get down into the ear and damage it, and it is slightly antibacterial, it helps keep the ear healthy. So we don’t always want to get rid of it. Left to itself, the ear will naturally clean itself.
However, when wax builds up to a level that it is blocking our hearing and causing discomfort, or getting in the way of wearing a hearing aid properly, it does need to be removed, but how?
Do you remember the saying “Never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear”? A lot of the problems with wax come from too much or the wrong type of cleaning. Pushing anything into our ears often pushes the wax further down making the problem worse, so that rules out cotton buds, hair grips, keys, end of combs – yes I’ve seen it all!
The first type of treatment with a small amount of too much wax is to use drops. Normal olive oil [just a little, you’re not making a salad!] often softens the wax enough to allow it come out by itself.
But, if you wear a hearing aid, you don’t want an oily, waxy ear as that could block the hearing aid and stop it working that means you may need your ears cleaning out more regularily.
In the past, the most common way to get rid of too much wax was to have them syringed, where warm water is carefully rinsed into the ear canal and washes the wax out. I do use this method when it’s the right choice.
A more modern, safer and effective new way of removing wax is with a tiny suction device that gently vacuums up the wax, without the need for water. This is precise and is safe for people who can’t have their ears washed out [syringed] perhaps because of a perforated ear drum.
Another common question is “How often should I get my ears cleaned?”. Again, that depends on you. For some people it’s every 9 months, others go years, and for some lucky souls, they never need it doing. But when it does need doing and once your ears are wax free and ‘squeaky clean’, the benefit can be dramatic, suddenly the world becomes a noisy place again.
Bruce Springsteen becomes an ambassador for conscious hearing
Cision PRWeb reports that the Hear the World Foundation has a new ambassador who needs no introduction: Bruce Springsteen.
The Hear the World Foundation is a Swiss charitable foundation that supports people in need, and particularly children with hearing loss. Springsteen will be an ambassador for conscious hearing and will support the non-profit organization’s hearing loss prevention campaign.
Bruce Springsteen has had one of the music industry’s longest recording careers – over 40 years. He has released 18 studio albums, won 20 Grammy awards and an Oscar, and has been inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Springsteen joins some 100 celebrities (musicians, models and actors) who have agreed to support the effort to bring hearing healthcare to those in need. Other high-profile ambassadors include Bryan Adams, Cindy Crawford, Plácido Domingo, Annie Lennox, and Sting.
Founded in 2006 by Sonova, the Hear the World Foundation has supported over 80 projects on all 5 continents. It has provided financial resources, donated hearing solutions, and launched training projects for local workers in audiology.
Examples of the foundation’s work include efforts such as awareness campaigns, charity events, and the sale of the Hear the World calendar. The calendar features the organization’s celebrity ambassadors. These projects aim to help raise global awareness about hearing healthcare and to support children in need with hearing loss, enabling them to develop at an appropriate rate for their age.