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Listen to us on Radio 2

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Jack Stancel-Lewis on Jeremy Vine discussing the rare symptoms and diagnosis of Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome – which is where a person’s own speech or other self-generated noises (e.g. heartbeat, eye movements, creaking joints, chewing) are heard unusually loudly in the affected ear.

Matthew Allsop from Harley Street Hearing on BBC Radio 2

Paul Checkley talks to Radio 2 about the Phonak Lyric hearing device

Harley Street Hearing are proud to be the first UK clinic to introduce Lyric – the breakthrough hearing aid  which requires no handling and remains in your ear 24/7.

Lyric is inserted deep inside the ear canal by our specially trained hearing healthcare professionals and can stay there for up to three months even in the shower and while you sleep.

Harley Street Hearing played an integral part in the introduction of the Lyric hearing system into Europe and are the first and most experienced Lyric centre in the UK.

Call us on 020 7486 1053 to book your comprehensive Lyric assessment – you too could benefit from effortless, invisible hearing 24/7.

Find out more about Lyric by visiting our dedicated pages below…

Read about us in The Sunday Times

“Pump down the jam”

That post-gig ringing is no longer a pain in the ear thanks to a new breed of plugs, says our relieved writer.

It was an unusual birthday present, having green gunk syringed into my ears in a Harley Street consulting room. But my girlfriend’s heart was in the right place. And so, now, should my hearing levels be the next time I go to a gig — the result, and my surprise gift, a bespoke set of decibel-reducing earplugs that “turn down” the volume of amplified music without impairing its fidelity.

The woman doing the gunking (my girlfriend had merely written the cheque) was Geraldine Daly, audiologist to the stars and to pop writers like me. She was taking a mould of each of my lugholes so my earplugs fitted perfectly. I need them because — like 10% of adults in Britain — I have persistent tinnitus, that ringing sound you can get after listening to loud music, and I don’t want it to worsen. Typically, the condition passes after a few hours, but in one in 10 cases, the sonic hangover never leaves you. And there is no cure.

For decades, musicians and music fans took tinnitus on the chin, or rather on the tympanic membrane. Some even regarded it as a badge of honour, their “tinnitus buzz”. Now most wellknown bands are aware of the dangers of loud music, and in-ear monitors that lessen ambient noise on stage are the industry standard. Yet, as Daly’s colleague Paul Checkley says, 90% of those tested at Musicians’ Hearing Services have some degree of hearing loss if they already have tinnitus. Dido, Coldplay, Plan B, Pete Townshend and New Young Pony Club are among the company’s clients. Despite the efforts of the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People’s Don’t Lose the Music campaign, the general public is far less
clued up.

While old age, stress and genetic predisposition can bring it on, the most common cause of tinnitus is prolonged exposure to amplified music above 85 decibels (dB), whether that’s at home, at a gig, in the car or on personal headphones (which can peak at 115dB). Eighty-five decibels, roughly equivalent to busy city traffic, is deemed a safe daily limit (averaged over an eight-hour working day) for unprotected ears. Decibels, however, are measured on a logarithmic scale, so every 3dB increase of intensity represents a doubling of loudness and, consequently, a halving of safe exposure time. Do the maths and a rock show, at 110dB, is safe without protection for barely two minutes. Spinal Tap might have loved to crank their amps up to 11, but here the joke is on us.

Eddy Temple-Morris, a DJ/producer and BTA advocate, is angry that the risks of loud music receive so little publicity.

“I used to think the ringing noise, tinnitus, was part and parcel of going to a gig. Nobody — not the government, not my GP, not anybody — told me that one day the noise would never go away. The government spends a gazillion quid on warning people not to burn themselves with fireworks on Bonfire Night. Fair enough, but 10% of the country don’t burn themselves with fireworks. There should at least be posters telling people they could permanently damage their ears simply by being at a venue.”

After I’d spoken to Temple-Morris, he mentioned the interview on Twitter, and the war stories tumbled forth. @DJDanCook tweeted: “Horrendous tinnitus-induced insomnia last night.” And
@orangewarrior chimed in: “It actually gets a bit better after you’ve worn ER-15s [the mediumstrength fitted earplugs] for a while. Never goes away, but I noticed an improvement.” For some, though, it’s already too late. Temple-Morris says that his friend Erol Alkan, a DJ, has lost 40% of his hearing in one ear.

What exactly is tinnitus? Nobody knows for sure. Loud music leaves the hair cells of the cochlea all shook up. What happens next is either that we start to pick up what Checkley describes as “excess electrical activity in the auditory system” — internal static, if you will — or that the brain, as Checkley puts it, “anticipates a response from those hair cells and, not receiving it, or getting it at a lower level than expected, generates a signal to compensate for it”. What tinnitus sufferers “hear” is an individual perception: mine blares like a whistling kettle, only not as shrill; others report clicking, hissing and roaring noises. Most of us can learn to tune them out, but folk with chronic tinnitus want to run head first into walls.

As for whether tinnitus can lead to deafness, Daly says: “Tinnitus does not necessarily mean that there is impending hearing loss. Yet, if the sufferer continues to be exposed to the same levels of noise, there is every chance the tinnitus will get worse.” Noise-induced hearing loss means you lose frequencies of 4kHz and above.

As Checkley explains, that’s all the “ck-th-ssh-sss” consonant sounds vital to understanding what is being said to us. Some musicians he treats have hyperacusis, an abnormal growth of loudness in the cochlea, “which is even worse than tinnitus”.

“It’s the best £175 I’ve ever spent,” Temple-Morris says of his custom-made plugs. “You can still hear the sizzle of a high-hat, the boom of a kick drum and all the midrange frequencies.” They work by filtering the sound, taking the edge off the volume by an order of 9dB, 15dB or 25dB. I was advised to go for the ER-15s, meaning my safe listening limit has, in effect, been increased to eight hours at 100dB. But if an arena rock concert lasts two hours and hits 110dB, doing the logarithmic calculation, won’t I be “at risk” for the second half of the show, even wearing my supersnug ER- 15s?

“Remember that these safe levels are set low, and that it depends where the 110dB level is measured,” Checkley says. “If it is 110dB at the speaker, there will be a substantial drop in intensity over distance. Also, we are talking averages — while the levels may peak at 110dB, the average may be lower over the two-hour period.”

No moshing down the front at a Metallica show, then. In most situations, though, it seems I’ll be safer more often than sorry with the earplugs in. And rather that than be a tinnitus burnout any day. Time to write a certain someone a thank-you note, eh?

by Richard Clayton-published in The Sunday Times 13 February 2011

Read about us in The Telegraph

The Telegraph Hearing

“After 15 years of struggling with his hearing, Keith Davis reached the point of no return. A meeting he chaired eight years ago, as chief executive of a local authority, had taken four times as long as it should as people painstakingly repeated themselves again and again for his benefit.”

The Telegraph discusses how Keith Davis solved his hearing problems, and our clinical director Paul Checkley is mentioned in the article as follows:

Clinical director Paul Checkley at Harley Street Hearing says he is not surprised it takes on average 15 years for people to seek professional help for hearing loss. “Unfortunately there is a stigma around hearing aids as people perceive it as an outward sign you are getting older. Glasses have now become trendy but the stigma remains for hearing aids.”

To read the full article click here

The interview all musicians should see

How to care for your second best asset, your ears

Jono Heale, from ACS talks to Paul Checkley – Harley Street Hearing & Musicians’ Hearing Services Clinical Director about hearing, how and why singers and musicians can damage this important sensory organ, and how to go about protecting this valuable asset.

Paul explains how the ear works, how it can get damaged, which particular frequencies and exposure times cause hearing loss and how to conserve your hearing as a singer/musicians. Did you know that our ears continue to grow throughout our lives? Weird, but true. It does mean you need to have your ear plugs and IEMs redone throughout your career.

The Musicians Hearing Health Scheme – brought to you in partnership with Help Musicians UK,  Musicians’ Hearing Services and the Musicians’ Union. This scheme gives all professional musicians in the UK affordable access to specialist hearing assessments and custom fitted hearing protection.

For a one-off fee of £40 (£30 for MU members) you will receive a package worth over £200.

To apply for the Scheme  click here

The interview was carried out for iSing Magazine – a hub for singers with find reliable information, resources and advice about all things singing.

 

 

BBC News Hearing Loss from Loud Music

 

BBC News interview with Dr Greg Nassar (Clinical Services Manager-North West Hearing) after the landmark High Court judgement on hearing damage from loud music.

Anyone exposed to significant noise is prone to hearing loss, tinnitus, loudness discomfort or intolerance, and hyperacusis – where sounds that were once tolerable become intolerable.

This judgement will have implications about the risk of hearing damage for musicians and the leisure industry all over the country.

Discussion about custom-made ear plugs and demonstrates the damaging levels of noise exposure in the second BBC News interview below.

Dr Greg Nassar is Clinical Services Manager at North West Hearing, part of the Harley Street Hearing group.