Ask Doctor Nina - Questions & Answers

Ringing In The Ears - Tinnitus

Question: Hi I have ringing in my ears ..Have attended my local doctor reckons its tinnitus...Gave me drops on second visit to take for 5 days but no improvement...Have dis bout a month ...Any advice please ..

Doctor Nina: Tinnitus can come and go or remain and you have done the right thing to approach your GP in the first instance. My best advice would be to have your hearing checked at a Hidden Hearing clinic where you will be advised on the best way to manage the tinnitus and your overall hearing health. .

Hearing Damage - Rock Concerts

Question: I'm a 36 year old male. I believe I may have some hearing damage from years of going to loud rock concerts with no ear protection. I find myself asking people to repeat themselves more and more often. Thankfully, I wear earplugs to any concerts now. But maybe the damage is done, should i go to hidden hearing or to my GP to get checked out?

Doctor Nina: Yes you should have things checked out if you have any concerns. If the hearing loss appears to be in just one ear then I would advise to see your GP firstly and then to your local Hidden Hearing clinic. Noise exposure can have permanent effect on our hearing and I am glad you are protecting your ears more recently and it is important that you have your hearing tested to determine the current baseline for your hearing and ongoing each year to monitor any deterioration. A test will determine the best course of action for you to pursue and deal with any concerns you may have.

Hearing Loss Right Ear

Question: I suffer from great hearing loss in my right ear. Lately I have been experiencing what sounds like pulsating sounds in my ears. I'm unsure if it's tinnitus as the symptoms for that are very similar. Would a hearing aid help this? Thank you in advance for a reply. Ian

Doctor Nina: This pulsating sound should be reported to your own GP if you have not done so already. If the tinnitus or hearing loss seems to be in just one ear then I would advise to see your GP firstly and then go to your local Hidden Hearing clinic. Tinnitus can be caused by a number of different factors and this should be investigated alongside having a regular test of hearing. There are now many specialised hearing devices which can help, not only the hearing, but also the tinnitus. You should have your hearing tested at your local Hidden Hearing clinic where you will be advised of the best course of action to your individual needs..

Tinnitus

Question: Hi, I have developed Tinnitus over the past 12 months which takes the form of 3 different tones in my ears at all times. The onset coincided with moving to a new house located close to a small electrical substation. Is there any chance that it is linked?Do you think if I moved it would go? I'm also concerned about the potential for long term damage. Thanks, David

Doctor Nina: I would suggest that you mention the onset of tinnitus to your GP and also book in for a free hearing screening at your local hidden hearing branch. Even if you are not noticing issues with your hearing at this time it is still important to have a baseline for your hearing so that it can be tracked over time, especially if you have concerns over future deterioration. I would also suggest that you keep a diary of your symptoms if they subside in times you are away from home it may be more likely that they are somehow linked with your home environment.

Hearing on the Phone

Question: My 84 year old mother has bilateral hearing aids. She has trouble hearing certain people on the phone (landline) Is there a particular type of cordless phone I can buy for her to assist?

Doctor Nina: Her hearing aid may be able to be adapted to suit phone use better. I would suggest that an appointment is made with a hearing aid dispenser at one of our Hidden Hearing branches to investigate. Advice on suitable hearing aid comparable phones can also be provided at the consult.

Scarred Eardrum

Question: Hi, I am 29 and have very bad hearing in my right ear. I have been told by my GP that I have a very scarred eardrum.
Is this something that might be helped by a hearing aid as it is causing me a lot of hassle in my job etc. I would be interested in attending the free hearing test if possible?

Doctor Nina: It is important that you have a hearing test to investigate the issues that you are having and to answer your query completely. Hidden Hearing would be happy to arrange a free hearing test at a branch local to you, where this can be investigated fully and best advice provided on how to care for your hearing.

Acute Tinnitus

Question: Hi Doctor Nina. I suffer from acute tinnitus and my hearing is shocking - is there any help available? Thanks, Ml .

Doctor Nina: Hello, My best advice is for you to have a full audiometric assessment, the assessment will give indications of what may be causing your hearing problems and/or your tinnitus. The assessment is free of charge, from any of our nationwide branches, clinics or if you wish in your own home.

Klippel Feil Syndrome

Question: Hi Doctor Nina. I have Klippel Feil syndrome, also Tinnitus and dull hearing in one ear. Will I benefit from hearing aids? Thanks, Sheila.

Doctor Nina: Hello Sheila. There are hearing disorders associated Klippel Feil syndrome. If you have not had a full audiological assessment I would encourage you to do so to determine the type of hearing loss (if any) you may have. After an audiological assessment has taken place the audiologist will give you best advice on suitability of hearing aids. You can avail of a full audiometric test, free of charge, from any of our nationwide branches, clinics or our home visiting service.

Recurring Ear Ache

Question: Hi Doctor Nina. I have hearing loss since I was a child. I went to an ENT specialist in my late teens. He said that if I got tonsillitis my hearing could go altogether. I have a sore ear recently now and again. My ears are popping too, should I go to a doctor with this do you think? Many thanks and kind regards, Aileen

Doctor Nina: Hello Aileen. If you have any discomfort or pain to your ears, it would be best for you to consult again with you GP for his advice. As part of Hidden Hearing’s Wellness programme we would encourage you to have your hearing tested, free of charge at any of our nationwide branches or clinics in order to establish if your hearing is remaining the same.

Klacid Antibiotic

Question: Dear Doctor Nina. I took Klacid for a chest infection and it has effected my hearing significantly. My pharmacist said this will go away in a couple of days. I took my last tablet on Wednesday morning last and I have had no improvement since. Please advise. Deirdre

Doctor Nina: Hearing loss has been reported with clarithromycin (Klacid). This is most common in older women but is usually reversible on stopping the medication. If you notice your hearing has not improved then please have a check with your GP to rule out any other causes of hearing loss.

Ears feeling blocked

Question: Dear Doctor Nina. My right ear always can't hear properly, sometimes it is normal, sometimes its like blocking. It has been like this for half year already. I used Care+ sodium bicarbonate ear drop for fews days already, but it doesn’t help a lot. I used it in left ear as well, before I used it, my left ear is okay, and now my left ear starts being the same. What should I do?

Doctor Nina: I would recommend that you see your GP about this in the first instance.

Hearing Loss and Down's Syndrome (Frances)

Question: On behalf of my son James who is 29 and has Down's Syndrome, he wore hearings aids when he was younger but stopped because they hurt and caused infections. Would he benefit from these aids?

Doctor Nina: Dear Frances, the condition your son has is usually associated with a conductive hearing loss with the possibility of running or wet ears. This would account for infections with the use of hearing aids. However, there are some types of hearing aids, bone conduction aids, which may be of use to him. I suggest he has his hearing checked at one of our clinics or branches and the audiologist will be able to give you their best advice.

My dance music seems too loud (Joe)

Question: Hi, my problem is that my hobby is dancing but I can no longer cope with the music volume. Even when other people say it is not too loud it still sounds loud to me and after a short while it is just an irritation. I am wondering if the new DigifocusII would help to solve this problem?

Doctor Nina: Hello Joe, protecting your hearing from loud noise, including music should certainly be a high priority. You may consider the use of hearing protection in the form of defenders. Any of our branch networks will be happy to advise you on this.

Ear Infection (Renaldas)

Question: Hi, for a past 3 weeks I have an issue with only one ear working. After diving I got an infection and my ear started ringing a lot. I was prescribed antibiotics Pinamox 500mg with ear drops for a week but that didn't help. Now I'm taking Deltacortil Ent 5mg Gast Res tablets and using Nasobec 50 micrograms aqueous nasal spray and to be honest it looks like the issue only increasing. I just realised other day that I can't hear some noises at all, like high frequency beep sounds of diamond tester and such, can you please advise where should I go further, and can an infection even cause this issue with my hearing? I would really appreciate your time and thanks in advance for your advice, have nice day.

Doctor Nina: Hello Renaldas. Thank you for your question. As your ear has not improved with the treatment you are using I would advise returning to your GP. If the infection is in the outer part of your ear a swab may help identify the bug causing it. If this doesn't help you may need to be referred to an ENT specialist to r/o any other damage to the ear or your hearing. Sincerely Dr. Nina

Old Ear Trauma (Olamidotun)

Question: Dear Dr Nina, I am a 31yr old with hearing loss of 17yrs duration, below is a little history of how the problem started. I received a blow to the back of my left ear as a 5yr old boy while playing at school, following that, I had a massive swelling at the point of trauma while later lead to the development of chronic suppurative discharge from the ear(left). I was treated with antibiotic but after about 5 months I discovered that I could barely hear with the left ear. On visiting my E.N.T specialist, I was told I had perforation of the membrane. Due to migration I couldn't properly follow up the treatment. Now I can't hear with the left ear at all and would like you to advise me on how best to get treated. Are hearing aids suitable for me? I await your response.

Doctor Nina: Hello Olamidotun. It sounds like you have had prolonged issues with your ear. As it hasn't been medically reviewed in a while I would first advise being referred to an ENT doctor and having your ear checked again. A doctor will then be able to advise you about the best way forwards.

Duller hearing in one ear? (Luke)

Question: Hi Dr. Nina. Usually I have very good hearing, but lately one ear sound is duller than the other. Is there a problem?

Doctor Nina: Hello Luke. If you perceive that you have had a change in your hearing you should go and have your hearing assessed. You can make an appointment at any of our branches or clinics and you will be given the best advice by our audiologists. The hearing test is free of charge. I would also advise a check-up with your GP if your hearing is reduced on one side.

Meniere's Disease (Ivan)

Question: Hi Dr. Nina, can a hearing aid help me? I have Meniere's disease and have had gentomycinin injections into the ear for same but as gentomycinin is toxic to ear a lot of hearing has being lost. Many thanks.

Doctor Nina: Hello Ivan. Yes hearing aids can assist with Meniere's Disease. I suggest that you have your hearing checked and get expert advice from any of our nationwide branches or clinics.

Refusal to wear hearing aids (Bernice)

Question: Hi Dr. Nina, my father refuses point blank to wear hearing aids. He has been advised by both yourselves at Hidden Hearing and also a public app along with his GP that he needs to wear them. He refuses. Any advice at all?

Doctor Nina: Hello Bernice and thank you for your enquiry. Research has shown that it takes on average 10 years before someone is aware of their hearing loss before they are ready to accept hearing amplification. Your father will need a lot of encouragement and support to come to terms with his hearing loss and the acceptance of hearing amplification. I hope you can find a solution.

Conductive or Sensorineural hearing loss? (John)

Question: Hi Dr. Nina, with a deaf left ear due to mastoid in 1933 I am unable to hear speech with my right in a car while driving. Otherwise when compared with other hearing wearers I notice a need to increase volume but still hear things which are not heard by them. Will I still hear these sounds with an aid?

Doctor Nina: Hello John, you will need to have your hearing tested so that the audiologist knows whether you have a 'conductive' loss or a 'sensorineural loss' or possibly a mixture of both in order to answer your question. I suggest that you have your hearing tested at one of our branches or clinics and the audiologist will be able to answer your question when they have the appropriate information to hand.

Fierce ear pressure! (Noreen)

Question: Hi Dr. Nina, I have a lot of pressure in my ear sometimes. A slight ringing but the pressure is affecting my hearing when I'm relaxed but when stressed the pressure in my ear is fierce.

Doctor Nina: Hello Noreen, I would recommend that you see your GP concerning this in the first instance and then consider having your hearing tested, free of charge at any of our branches or clinics.

Will a hearing aid help with my Tinnitus? (Bernard)

Question: Hi, I have been suffering from tinnitus for over 12 months now. I have been to ENT and still no help. I have a deviated septum so I can't breath properly throught the right nostril. ENT told me that was not the problem but ringing only started since nose blocked. He advised me that a hearing aid might help, it's driving me crazy. It's very loud at night and wakes me up.

Doctor Nina: Hello Bernard, I would suggest that you make an appointment to have your hearing tested at one of our branches or clinics. The ENT consultant is correct. Hearing aids can assist in the management of tinnitus.

Could my hearing be too good? (Carolyn)

Question: Hello Doctor, I'm wondering if it is possible to have hearing that is too good? I very frequently hear high pitched sounds that no one else can hear and can tell for example if there is a radio, TV, etc plugged in in a room. Would appreciate if you have any feedback. Thank you.

Doctor Nina: Hello Carolyn, it certainly is possible to have exceptional hearing and it sounds as if you have. Look after it - your hearing is a very precious commodity!

Otosclerosis? (Gerard)

Question: I got a pain in my left ear on and off for 6 weeks. I also got a fullness in the same ear. When I went to my GP I was given Otosporin but it had no effect. The pain got worse so I went back. I was then put on Augmentin duo for the infection and Nasonex for my nose but there was still no improvement. I was referred to ENT and had audiology tests and a nasal camera. I was told it could be otosclerosis. The pain is still there and my hearing is worse. I was just wondering does this type of rapid loss take place with otosclerosis and would a CT scan confirm the diagnosis? I was put on steroid drops for my ears but I don’t know if they will do any good. I find the whole thing frustrating and weird. Can you help?

Doctor Nina: Hello Gerard, Otosclerosis is a condition which can often be hereditary and effects the movement of the bones inside the ear. It is one cause of hearing loss but there are many others. Otosclerosis can cause ringing in the ears but pain is not one of the most common symptoms. Hearing loss is occasionally rapid. It's not possible to diagnose all ear conditions just by looking in the ear or doing a hearing test so a CT scan will help look for other causes of ear problems and is commonly done as part of the diagnosis. It sounds like attending an ENT clinic is the right thing for you at the moment. If it does turn out to be otosclerosis they will discuss the treatment options with you which can include hearing aids or surgery.

What's the first step? (Carmel)

Question: I have suffered hearing loss for years in my right ear. I went to a specialist when I was 18 years old. He said my ear drum had collapsed and I should get a hearing aid but I never did anything about it. Should I go to my own doctor or to you?

Doctor Nina: Hello Carmel. You don't mention what age you are now and, as causes of hearing loss change and vary over years, I would always recommend starting with a check-up with you doctor first, especially as the hearing loss seems to be on one side. You can then discuss with them the best way to proceed and certainly if you require a hearing test you can avail of one free of charge at any Hidden Hearing branch.

Grommets (Robert)

Question: I have a 2 and a half year old son and he might need grommets. Can your clinic do them and can you tell me the cost thank you?

Doctor Nina: Hi Robert, ee do not perform grommet insertion. Your GP should be able to recommend the best pathway for you.

Vertigo (Paul)

Question: Hello, a couple of months ago I started getting dizzy spells, accompanied by nausea, it felt like i was floating on water like a boat. I was told it is vertigo. I was put on medication to ease the symptoms, it worked but lately the dizzy spells have come back, I have this constant buzzing in my right ear that never went away, last time I was with the doctor she checked it and said my ear drum looks very dull. Also sometimes my ear gets quite warm, I was given an extra dose of medication to have at home in case I got another vertigo attack, the other day I happen to be talking to the doctor and I told her about the constant buzz in my right ear, she said just to take the medication in the meantime and if things don't settle then she said she will have it checked. It’s my right ear that’s the problem, I also have a narrow canal in that ear, I don’t know if that would have anything to do with it or not. Also the other day the doctor mentioned about tinnitus, I actually notice when I’m in a loud environment that seems to mask the buzzing in my ear. I am going back to see my doctor tomorrow, I also don’t know if this has anything to do with it but I notice I let some things drop out of my right hand lately, are the ears and hands connected in any way?

Doctor Nina: Hi Paul, I would advise following up with your GP as there are many physical symptoms and ringing in the ear, vertigo and hand weakness can all be connected if there aren’t nerve problems.

Tinnitus and Wax Removal (Larry)

Question: Would it be OK if a person has tinnitus to have a wax removal?

Doctor Nina: Hi Larry, I would advise to follow up with your GP. It depends on the cause of tinnitus and if the ear drums are ok. Sometimes wax can cause buzzing and removing it may help.

Recent Developments (Morgan)

Question: Hi, what recent developments have been made in hearing aid technology?

Doctor Nina: Hello Morgan. I have referred this query to a Hidden Hearing audiologist, who has particular expertise around hearing aids. Their response is: "Today's hearing aids are really high-tech "systems." They use a multitude of performance platforms to enhance a person's hearing experience. High-speed processors use sophisticated acoustic software that can be wirelessly adjusted during a fitting appointment. In the most advanced systems, the right and left aids simultaneously co-process sound for clearer, more distinctive hearing. These systems will also automatically adjust to changing sounds and voices, and will speed up or slow down their response rates according to a user's personal preferences. Bluetooth wireless technology has become standard. A small remote allows wearers to answer cellular or home phone calls in both instruments. Likewise, when watching television, the remote brings the audio signal from the televised program directly into the hearing aids. At Hidden Hearing, patients can listen to these advanced hearing aid systems during their appointments with a no quibble 90 day money back guarantee to ensure client satisfaction."

Hearing Loss (Liam)

Question: Hi Nina, my hearing was fine up to last friday, I washed my hair and felt my ear wasn't clearing as some water got in. I used a cotton bud, didn't push it in too far, as I've often done in the past, but hearing went completely then. I then bought some Cerumol and used as directed 'til yesterday. My hearing has partly returned, but i have no high frequencies still. Will this right itself soon as my right ear was the sharper of the two? Thanks Liam

Doctor Nina: Hi Liam, I would advise that you attend your local GP for an ear examination.

Menieres Disease & Hearing Loss (Morgan)

Question: Hi Dr. Nina. I was recently (November 2012) diagnosed with Menieres disease but have had gradual hearing loss for about 3-4 years now. Recently it has become very bad and makes it difficult for me to converse unless it is very quiet or on the phone or wearing headphones watching TV. I have read that hearing aids can be a solution. What do you think? I've been to so many ENT'S and to be honest the sense of doom and gloom I get from their responses such as "nothing can be done" and "don't bother trying hearing aids as they would be a waste of money" leaves me wondering should I give in that easily?? Thanks, Morgan.

Doctor Nina: Hello Morgan, Menieres disease is usually a fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss. Modern technology of hearing aids is well able to deal with this as your audiologist is able to reprogramme hearing aids as necessary. At Hidden Hearing you will be able to avail of a free hearing test and if recommended you will be able to have a 90 day trial of hearing aids so that you are sure that you are benefitting from the best amplification available.

A build up of Ear Wax? (Helen)

Question: Hi Nina. My Dad, aged 83, is having problems with his hearing lately, he says he can't hear a thing. The volume of the TV is turned up very high and he can't understand anyone when they are speaking to him, even with his hearing aids in which he has for a number of years now. He thinks he has a build up of ear wax, what do you think?

Doctor Nina: Hello Helen, your father should have a GP or audiologist look into his ears to see if there is a build up of wax. Also, he should have his hearing re-tested to see if there has been any significant change to his hearing and finally, ensure that the hearing aids are working efficiently. Hidden Hearing offers these services at our network of branches and clinics throughout Ireland.

Ear Wax Removal (Brigid)

Question: I had build up of wax in both ears and had micro suction done two days ago. My ears still feel as if there is wax in there and when I lie down the ears seem to block. Am I suffering from hearing loss?

Doctor Nina: Hello Brigid. My best advice is that you return to where you had the earwax removed and ask them to look into your ears to ascertain the condition. You can, of course, have your hearing tested free of charge at any of our branches or clinics.

Hearing Aids for my 5 year old? (Galima)

Question: I have a 5 year old boy, his right ear is weak. What kind of hearing aid that will be good for him? Thanks a lot for your help.

Doctor Nina: Hello Galima. The best route for you to take is to visit your GP who will be able to refer you on to a paediatric specialist who will be able to advise you best.

Glue Ear (Emma)

Question: Hello, my son Tom has a Glue Ear in left and has been referred to Ulster which could take 8-10 weeks for an appointment. This is delaying his speech and I am not sure what he is hearng. What can I do? Can you help?

Doctor Nina: Hello Emma. Glue ear is a common occurence in young children resulting in a temporary conductive loss. Your ENT consultant will be able to advise on the best procedure for Tom but you should be assurred that glue ear is very succesfully treated these days and should not interfere with his progress.

Ears Popping (Adrian)

Question: Hi Dr Nina, recently i've found that my right ear pops when I speak even slightly loudly and is also very sensitive to sound from other people and general noise. I had my ears syringed a few weeks ago so they are totally clear. It's like my ear is unblocking or has trapped air the whole time and is very very annoying. Any idea what this could be? I'm 29 by the way. Thanks for your time Doc.

Doctor Nina: Hello Adrian, my best advice is to return to your GP and ask him to take a look into your right ear. ‘Popping’ can sometimes occur if there is a change in the air pressure in the middle ear. However, your GP will be able to advise after he has looked into your ear.

Will it go away? (Adrian)

Question: Hi Nina. I'm 28 years old and around 7 months ago I developed slight tinnitus in both ears. I have since had a hearing test and been checked by a ENT specialist and they have advised me I have mild hearing loss (particularly in one ear) caused by exposure to noise (I'm guessing listening my ipod over years). I was totally able to ignore it for the most part but in the last 2 weeks it seems to have got worse, particularly in the bad ear. I am pretty distressed at the moment cause I feel like if it can get worse in the space of 7 months, then it can get even worse again and I dont know how I will cope with it. I was wondering if you could give me any advice for a possible remedy? I am taking zinc, vitamin B12 supplements and trying to cut down on caffeine. I am also getting some ginkgo biloba in the next week or so to try out. Do you think in time this could subside?

Doctor Nina: Hello Emma, there are several issues here. Firstly, the importance of protecting your hearing and be aware of the damage which ipods can do. Tinnitus often is a reported symptom where there is a hearing loss. There are many management and coping strategies for tinnitus and good information is available on www.tinnitus.org. However, wearing of hearing devices can also assist the hearing loss and can also provide relief from tinnitus. You do not say if you are wearing hearing aids but you may wish to consider this. You can avail of a hearing test in any of Hidden Hearing’s branches or clinics.

Always asks twice . . .

Question: Hi, I have an 8 year old son, he always ask twice what we said any thing to him,in school he cofirms with his class fellows what the teacher said to them.he told me that few months back he feels ringing sound in ears. i never see wax coming out from his checked few days ago that the ear drum is fine. i am very worried right now.what do u think is he loses his hearing.he is a very shy person not talk that much ,when he was 4 he was dignosed as selective mutism.then after speech therpies he over come that.but still not much social.

Doctor Nina: Hello. It would be best if you could get your son’s hearing assessed to see if there are any problems there and then take the audiologist’s best advice. Tinnitus can effect children too and is a reason to return to your GP and request that a full audiological assessment is arranged.

Can you help? (Ann Marie)

Question: Hi Nina, my Dad is 90, totally deaf on one side and has been using a digital hearing aid for the last 5 years. Can you help him?

Doctor Nina: Hello Ann Marie. I would suggest that if you think that your father is not perceiving any benefit from his hearing aid that you return to your audiologist and take this up with her/him. It may be that if you discuss the nature of any problems with your audiologist you may be able to receive further help. For example, perhaps getting his hearing reassessed so that you know that his hearing aid is adequately programmed or making sure that the hearing aid is functioning to capacity.

Uncomfortable Ear Pain (Jake Brannigan)

Question: Hi Nina, my right ear feels uncomfortable a lot of the time for the past year or so, especially in bed at night. My left ear feels fine, and I don't think I have any hearing issues or pain really. It feels bad after a shower too, could there be water in there? And even more uncomfortable when I clench my teeth. What is the matter with me and could Hidden Hearing help or is it a GP issue?

Doctor Nina: Hello Tony. You should really take this up with your GP. Pain can be a sign of inflammation or infection and should be checked by a doctor.

Invisible Hearing Aids? (Tony)

Question: My hearing isn't great. Background noise is my problem, but i'd hate to have things visible in my ears. Is there any that are completely hidden?

Doctor Nina: Hello Tony. The first step you should take is to have your hearing tested. If you are having difficulty in background noise, it is likely that you have a hearing loss of some kind. You can have your hearing tested at any of our branches or clinics absolutely free of charge and without obligation. The audiologist will provide you with all of the solutions which are available to you that will suit your hearing and also be cosmetically appealing if that is your priority.

The Government Grant (Christy)

Question: I am unemployed with a medical card, does the government cover me?

Doctor Nina: Hello Christy. If you have a medical card you should be eligible for hearing aid provision from the HSE. You will need to progress this through your GP. However, depending on the area in which you live there may be a waiting time before you can be accommodated. Remember, you can have your hearing tested free of charge from any Hidden Hearing’s branches or clinics without any delay.

Buzzing in my Ears! (James)

Question: I have a continuous buzzing in my right ear from banging my head off a floor 19 years ago. I was told the bones in my ear were smashed, would your clinic be able to offer me anything?

Doctor Nina: Hello James. I would encourage you to visit your GP to find out exactly what happened to your ear as it's unusual to smash the bones in your ear. It may well be that you have a hearing loss which could be assisted with a hearing device. You can have your hearing checked free of charge at any of our branches or clinics and the audiologist will be able to give you the best advice. The buzzing sound you report is probably tinnitus. Hearing aids can sometimes assist in the management of tinnitus.

Turning the TV up too loud! (Hilda)

Question: I have a small NHS hearing aid, but find I still cannot hear my TV properly without the sound turned up to 'over 50'. My son hears adequately at 15, and even at 50+ I find I need the subtitles on, as I can't understand much of what I can hear with movies on SKY. I have a 42" plasma TV and am considering replacing it with a different make of TV with assured sound quality. What do I need to do? Dispose of the TV or get a different hearing aid.?

Doctor Nina: Hello Hilda. Without knowing what your hearing loss is it is difficult to answer this question. However, in our experience, properly programmed hearing aid(s) should be able to cope with most television volume requirements. There is also a range of anciliary devices which you may try for the TV.

Hearing Loss due to a virus? (Patrick)

Question: Hi, my question is for a friend of mine who could hear up until he was 18. He is now 29 and only has hearing in one ear. He seen his doctor and has had tests done and he was told the deafness was probably caused by a virus. He has done nothing about it for the last 7 or 8 years, so is there anything that can be done to help him?

Doctor Nina: Hello Patrick. There may well be some hearing in the ear which had the viral infection and I would recommend that your friend has his hearing checked at one of our branches and clinics and the audiologist will be give him their best advice. There are some special devices for unilateral (one sided) hearing loss which may be suitable for him.

Concert Damage? (Stephen)

Question: Hi there.. I went to a sitdown concert and was in close proximity to a speaker. My right ear began to crackle a little. Ever since the ear has been fine(ish). I can hear with it except the range or balance has been a little off. I can hear more high/mid with headphones on my left ear than on my right. It's nothing major just a little annoying. Is this permanent? I’ve had no history in my family of hearing loss or hearing aids. Any suggestions / help / advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Doctor Nina: Hello Stephen. It would be best if you had a full audiometric test to ascertain the true hearing thresholds and then monitor how your hearing is by having your hearing assessed at say, 6 monthly intervals. Hearing tests are free of charge at all Hidden Hearing branches and clinics. Sometimes, exposure to loud noise can damage hearing and your audiologist will give you best advice on how to protect your hearing as well.

Hearing Aids picking up background noise? (C. McKietnan)

Question: Dear Dr Nina. My father-in-law is suffering with a loss of hearing. He has mentioned that he has tried some hearing aids but they seem to pick up a lot of background noise. Can you inform me whether other hearing aids deal with this?

Doctor Nina: Dear Carmel, new technology goes a long way in dealing with hearing speech signals in noise. However, it should be remembered that a hearing aid is not a panacaea for normal hearing. The best technology, combined with a desire to work with your audiologist and your hearing instrumentation is the best route forward to better hearing.

Would an amplifier help? (V. Cordial)

Question: My aunt is deaf from birth and due to a brain tumour her ear drum burst in the other ear. She is now completely deaf and we can't communicate with her. Her doctor said she needs implants but she's too ill for the operation. She says she can hear her phone when it's on speaker, would an amplifier help do you think. This is going to be a short term solution as she's very ill but her quality of life is extremely bad. She's depressed and bored because she can't watch tv, hear the radio or talk to other people. Even the nurses and other patients have given up trying to chat to her. She's elderly and we can't afford anything too expensive especially as it's going to be short term.

Doctor Nina: Hello Verona, there are some reasonably priced amplifiers which are available and may be of use to your aunt. The best selection can be seen on line at www.actionhearingloss.org.uk A cordless TV listener is available which also helps with listening conversations.

CIC or ITE? (B. Millholland)

Question: I am in the process of trying new Phonak Solana CIC hearing aids. Both HA's sound very tinney. Can this be adjusted out? My loss is mostly high frequency, but not too serious. My audiologist thinks behind the ear HA's would be better for me, but if I could get rid of the tinney sound I think the CIC's will work for me.

Doctor Nina: Dear Bill, I am sure that your audiologist will be able to fine tune your hearing instruments to alleviate the ‘tinny sound’ you are experiencing. In the main, Behind the Ear Hearing Aids and on On the Ear Hearing Aids can provide more in terms of listening choices for the hearing impaired.

What's the next step? (Lorenzo)

Question: I had an hearing test and I found that I lost part of my ability to grasp human voice. What is the next step that I should take (I still have the results from the test; do I need to discuss this with a doctor now)? Thanks and regards

Doctor Nina: Dear Lorenzo, even though you have had a hearing test, an audiologist would still wish to retest your hearing and make an appropriate recommendation to you. If there are any reasons to refer you to a GP then your audiologist will do so. You can have your hearing tested free of charge at any of our branches or clinics in Ireland.

Ear Infection (M. Kelly)

Question: Hi Doctor, I had a mastoidectomy approx 6 years ago which has left approx 90% hearing loss in one ear. I recently had a bad infection in the other ear which left me almost completely deaf. Thankfully infection has cleared and hearing is back. My question is can you provide a hearing aid for the ear I had the mastoidectomy on in case the same thing happens in the future?

Doctor Nina: Dear Micheal, without knowing your age profile or the hearing profile of your inner ear (cochlea) there has been some success with BAHA’s (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids). You would need to explore this route with your GP and your ENT consultant. In some instances, it may be possible to provide a hearing device with a bone conduction spectacle aid. This is a specialised fitting and your audiologist will be able to advise on the suitability of this.

Tinnitus (Dermot)

Question: I suffer from tinnitus in both ears. A hearing test with a consultant some years ago showed some loss of hearing as a result of this condition. My GP has advised me not to get hearing aids because the increased noise volume would only aggravate the condition. I’m wondering if there is an alternative?

Doctor Nina: Dear Dermot, Tinnitus with hearing loss is a common occurence and many patients report reduced problems from their tinnitus as a result of addressing their hearing loss with hearing aids. There is a lot of information on the management of tinnitus and hyperacusis on www.tinnitus.org.uk “The use of sound therapy plays a part in the management of tinnitus and if you have hearing loss, then hearing aids provide a form of sound therapy through giving you easier access to everyday environmental sound. Most people find they hear their tinnitus less when their hearing aids are switched on.” (British Tinnitus Association) Modern hearing aid technology can be programmed so that sounds do not amplify beyond your personal uncomfortable loudness levels.

Voices sound hollow & tinney! (Graham)

Graham: I have hearing aids in both ears, speech is very hollow and tinney, what could cause this? (the hearing in my left ear is less than the right ear).

Doctor Nina: Depending on the level of technology of your hearing aids, your hearing specialist may be able to programme a change to the high frequency emphasis of your hearing aids. It is also important that your hearing is checked frequently in case there has been a change to your hearing. If your hearing has changed, your hearing specialist will need to make programmed changes to your hearing aids. Also, your hearing specialist may be able to perform ‘live speech mapping’ which shows your hearing aid’s performance against actual live speech.

I have tinnitus and hearing loss in my left ear! (Gabhain)

Gabhain: I have tinnitus and hearing loss in my left ear - I got a hearing aid which helped reduce the tinnitus but does nothing for the hearing loss especially in crowded rooms and ultimately its an inserted hearing aid so it feels like its actually blocking my ear not letting sound in. The way I describe it is as if I was talking with over ear headphones on - I can hear the vibrations of my voice or when I walk etc so its really an un-natural experience. I got the aid from Spec Savers for a few hundred Euro really just to see if it would help which it has but i think I can get a better solution. I'm 34 years of age and the tinnitus was brought on after a late night gig (I play drums socially) and hasn't stopped ringing since then (29th Dec 2009 to be exact!). Any advice would be greatly appreciated - is there anything I can do to help my hearing - any new technology coming to market for example? I was following MuteButton for example to see what happens in this space. Be very interested in hearing your opinion.

Doctor Nina: You raise several issues here Gabhain. Firstly, the feeling of being blocked is called ‘occlusion’ and hearing aid users often experience this as their own voice being too loud, having an echo, sounding like their head is in a bucket or their own voice is reverberating. One of the ways that this effect can be caused is by low frequency vowel sounds entering the ear canal and being trapped between the tip of the hearing aid and the eardrum. Advances in hearing aid technology and open fit hearing aids go a long way to alleviate this experience. This new technology can also assist in hearing speech clearer in crowded rooms. As you correctly observe, hearing aids can often help in the management of tinnitus. However, you should also take precautions to protect your hearing from excessive noise which can cause the onset of tinnitus. There are several types of noise protection available. More information on any of the above can be obtained from visiting any of the 60 Hidden Hearing clinics nationwide.

Hearing damage specifically caused by shooting? (Tom)

Tom: Hi, I'm a keen hunter, can I get tested to see if I have hearing damage specifically caused by shooting?

Doctor Nina: Hello Tom, if you’re worried about your hearing, you can have your hearing tested free of charge at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. The audiologist will also be able to offer you the best advice on the best ear protection to use whilst shooting.

Dr. Nina Byrnes
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