As a fully qualified Fellowship member of both the British, and the Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, he has years of advanced training both locally and nationally.
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Our own Hidden Hearing Mayo Audiologist, Ashley Cunningham, sat down with the Mayo Advertiser to discuss the work that is carried out at Hidden Hearing in Mayo, Hearing Loss FAQ’s and to enlighten readers on how to help friends or family members with hearing impairments.
Ashley runs our clinics in Ballina, Claremorris, and Westport. Other Hidden Hearing Mayo locations include Ballinrobe and Castlebar.
Mayo Advertiser / Hidden Hearing Mayo Q & A
Why did you decide to become an audiologist?
Ashley: I started my career as an audiologist in the UK 19 years ago and I have been working in Mayo for the last eight years. I was motivated to understand more about hearing from seeing my father’s hearing loss and the negative impact that it had on him and on our family, so that sparked my interest.
What interests you about audiology?
Ashley: I love helping people to hear better. The gratification I take from my job is when I receive thanks from family or the person that I have been able to help with their hearing loss and helping them attain a better quality of life. To receive that positive feedback gives me a real buzz.
How can I recognise if I have hearing loss or hearing problems?
Ashley: There are a number of indicators that you might start to notice. If you are with someone who has a hearing problem, you may notice the television is being turned up louder than per usual or you are having to repeat yourself more often. Certainly socially, hearing loss affects how you may hear in a group situation when there is background noise, so if you are noticing you or a loved one is struggling to hear in those types of situations then it is quite likely there is a hearing problem which needs attention.
Do you think there is still negativity towards having a hearing check?
Ashley: When I first started out as an audiologist, there was certainly a stigma attached to wearing hearing aids. However, back then hearing aids were cumbersome and unsightly whereas today it is more generally much more accepted to be wearing something around your ears. Certainly, the younger generation today are very accustomed to having MP3s or Bluetooth headsets so there is much less stigma now with modern technology as hearing aids become much more discreet. Most hearing aids can be completely hidden and because of that I believe there is less negativity associated with them. I see all ranges of people from different age groups. People are more hearing aware today.
What are the most common causes of hearing loss?
Ashley: Generally it is age; hearing wear and tear is the number one cause, with noise exposure being second. Then we can have hereditary hearing loss so it is not unusual to see people’s hearing loss run in families.
What are the effects of untreated hearing loss?
Ashley: Early detection is the key. The longer hearing loss is left to develop, the less hearing we have to work with. We can only work with what hearing is left. Once your hearing is gone there is no getting it back.
What would you recommend I do to encourage someone I know to have a hearing test done?
Ashley: The first point is to recognise that you may have a hearing problem and then make an appointment to have your hearing checked. Everybody, ideally, should have a baseline hearing test done at some point. At Hidden Hearing we have a wellness programme, where we work in conjunction with local GPs and encourage everyone to have this baseline screening; this allows us, in the future, to measure comparisons over a period of time. So if you find that you are having problems with your hearing, it is really just a question of making an appointment, coming along to see the audiologist, having the hearing test done. At Hidden Hearing we will then do a full explanation of the hearing results so the patient will fully understand.
How many people would you screen on a daily basis?
Ashley: The clinics that I run here in Hidden Hearing Mayo are always very busy. We have had great success in helping people. On a daily basis, I would screen six people every day and then on top of that I would be maintaining people who I have prescribed hearing systems to, so doing follow ups and checks.
How important is the aftercare?
Ashley: The aftercare is absolutely critical, in terms of how you might be able to get on with that hearing system over a long period of time. It is not just a question of just being fitted up with the hearing equipment. It is very important to tailor the equipment to what your requirements may be.
Hidden Hearing also does free ear wax removals for people over the age of fifty five, is this a popular service?
Ashley: The free ear wax removals at Hidden Hearing is a great service because it allows people to have their ears checked and have any wax removed, free of any charge. The service is very popular. We use the latest ear irrigation method to remove ear wax. The technique we use is a much safer way of removing ear wax and I would certainly recommend it.
There you have it from our lovely Audiologist, Ashley. A special thanks to Mayo Advertiser’s Matt Cassidy for writing the article.
Why Choose Hidden Hearing?
For some people hearing loss and having to get hearing aids can be a difficult change. With dedicated and caring staff who pride themselves on attention to detail and first class customer service, Hidden Hearing endeavours to make the transition to hearing aids as easy as possible.
Hidden Hearing offers a four year warranty on hearing aids which covers breakdowns and repairs. It is recommended that customers insure their aids for loss, theft, or accidental damage which is available through Hidden Hearing’s customer care plan. Every patient has a four year warranty from the fitting date, batteries free for life, and access to the latest technology available in Ireland. There is also the possibility of a Government grant of up to €1,000 and people can avail of 20 per cent tax back on hearing aids on the Med 1 form.
For more information call 1800 882 884, email email@example.com, visit www.hiddenhearing.ie, or call into one the five Hidden Hearing Mayo branches.