tel: 0345 222 0579      email: mail@helpinhearing.co.uk

  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss

    Sudden sensorineural hearing loss needs fast action

    Following on from features in our newsletter last year about Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, we’d like to re-emphasise the importance of responding immediately to this condition. We have seen some client cases recently which have led to urgent referrals. Sudden Hearing Loss is a medical emergency and although steroid treatment is usually successful, acting quickly is crucial.

    We had a very upset client who rushed round the other day because she believed she had suddenly gone deaf – we fitted her in straight away and as it turned out her ears were full of wax so we could of course give her immediate relief, but it is vital that such instances are taken seriously and that clients are seen immediately as the timing is crucial.

    Peter, one of our Marlow referrals said:

    “My very grateful thanks to Kevin at Help in Hearing. I suddenly lost hearing in my left ear and contacted Marlow Help in Hearing for an urgent test and was given an appointment the very next day. Following a thorough examination, Kevin urgently referred me to a Consultant at the Princess Margaret Hospital as he had detected a major hearing loss in my left ear. I was lucky enough to be seen the following day, thanks to Kevin’s urgent referral.

    “I was instructed to undergo a full brain MRI scan and prescribed a five-day course of steroids as Kevin and the Consultant agreed that it appeared that the blood was not circulating to my inner ear. The Consultant informed me there was a good chance that my hearing loss might be reversed thanks to Kevin’s quick action. Had this been left any longer I could have lost my hearing permanently. I am so thankful to Kevin for the early detection, accurate diagnosis and speedy referral, which has undoubtedly gone a long way to potentially saving my hearing.”

    If you experience sudden hearing loss, please give us a call straight away or get in touch online, as fast action could be crucial.

     

    This is an update to an article first published in our Spring 2018 newsletter

     

  • IP68 hearing aids - what does it mean and why is it important?

    IP68 – what is it and why is it important to my hearing aid?

    Do you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain?* Well if you do, but have been worried that getting your hearing aid wet would stop it working, the new coating on today’s hearing aids is for you. We explain about IP68 hearing aids and why it’s important for you.

    Ingress protection standards

    Today’s hearing aids are built to meet specific European standards called Ingress Protection or IP ratings. These ratings were originally developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission and define the levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures, such as hearing aids, against dust, dirt and moisture or to speak more plainly, the IP rating tells us how robust our hearing aid is.

    The letters IP are followed by 2 digits: the first digit defines the robustness against dust and the second the robustness against moisture.

    IP68 hearing aids

    The latest hearing aids undergo rigorous testing to gain an IP rating. Since 2016 most hearing aids have a rating of IP68 which means that they can withstand dust, dirt and sand and being submerged in water to a maximum depth of 1.5 metres for 30 minutes and will continue to work.

    Unfortunately, IP68 does not mean that the hearing aid can be worn while swimming but it does mean that it is protected should it be accidentally dropped into water or worn in the shower.

    The practical daily importance of the IP68 hearing aid rating is to protect the device, that is of course sitting against the skin, from sweat and from getting caught in the rain.

    IP68 hearing aids – where to find out more

    If you would like to try a hearing aid with the latest technology, including IP68, please email us for an appointment, or fill in our online form.

     

    *From Escape (aka The Piña Colada Song), by Rupert Holmes, 1979.

     

  • Things that can make tinnitus worse

    Things that can make tinnitus worse

    What can make tinnitus worse?Tinnitus is a generic term that describes hearing noises such as buzzing, hissing, ringing, whistling, and whooshing when there is no external noise source. It is a very common complaint which affects approximately 15% of the UK population, and 250 million people worldwide. Tinnitus varies in degrees from one individual to the next and people’s tolerance to this condition also varies depending on its severity. Many sufferers simply learn to live with tinnitus, while others seek help. Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are various ways of managing the condition. It is also worth knowing the sort of things that can aggravate or make tinnitus worse, and it is these factors that this post intends to address.

    Medications that can worsen tinnitus

    There are a number of medications that can bring about or heighten tinnitus noise. These include antibiotics, anti-depressants, aspirin, certain cancer medications, diuretics, and NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs). The higher the dose of these medications, the greater the risk of causing tinnitus. When the offending medication is taken away, in some instances the tinnitus reaction disappears. However, as a word of warning, you should always check with your doctor before ceasing to take any prescribed medication.

    Mental stress can make tinnitus worseMental stress

    Mental stress can also increase the perceived noise level of tinnitus. If you believe this to be the case in your situation, it can be helpful to find ways of relaxing to alleviate and manage stress, such as deep breathing techniques, physical exercise, or making use of biofeedback. Massage or alternative therapies such as acupuncture can often help.

    Problems with your jaw

    It is a little-known fact that your jaw shares certain ligaments and nerves with your middle ear. If your jaw “pops,” or it is painful when you eat or talk, these conditions could result in tinnitus.

    Exposure to loud noise can cause tinnitusLoud external noise

    Loud noises can also heighten tinnitus noise or even create it in the first place. Many people who attend music concerts often come away with their ears still ringing from the high levels of volume. Using headphones at high volume or being in a noisy factory or work environment can also cause or make tinnitus worse.

    Hearing loss

    Around 80% of people who suffer from tinnitus also experience a degree of hearing loss, although they may be unaware of it.

    Other causes of tinnitus symptomsOther potential causes of tinnitus

    Tinnitus can originate anywhere between the inner ear and the brain and can be constant or intermittent, temporary or chronic. It can occur for no apparent reason or as the result of exposure to loud sounds, head or neck injuries and emotional distress. Other potential causes of tinnitus include a build-up of wax in the ear, infections such as colds, high or low blood pressure, sleep disorders, bad headaches and migraine. Alcohol and nicotine can also make tinnitus worse. Alcohol because it increases blood pressure, which could make you notice your tinnitus even more, and smoking nicotine as it causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, limiting the supply of oxygen to your ears. 

    Tinnitus support

    The first step towards taking control of your tinnitus is to consult a professional, so that together, you can find the treatment plan that will work for you. We offer full tinnitus assessments to identify the most appropriate management tool for individual needs. We also run a BTA (British Tinnitus Association) recognised monthly Tinnitus Support Group which is facilitated by a trained Tinnitus Adviser. If you are interested in joining or know someone that would benefit, please contact us.

    Hearing aids can stream personalised relaxing sounds through mobile phone apps to help reduce tinnitusCan I treat my tinnitus?

    A hearing care professional can help you manage your particular symptoms using a combination of education, counselling, and hearing aids which not only enhance your hearing but can also stream personalised sound relaxation through mobile phone apps.

    What creates the perception of sound?

    Although the causes appear to vary, experts believe that tinnitus results from damaged hair cells in the inner ear. The brain sometimes misinterprets reduced signals from the ear, resulting in a perception of sound — tinnitus — that isn’t really there.

    Tinnitus support – where to find out more

    If you are troubled by tinnitus you might value advice from a hearing specialist to first of all check if you have a hearing loss that needs treating or if there is another easily treatable cause, such as excess ear wax. This treatment can also help reduce tinnitus sounds. 

    If you are affected by tinnitus:

    Read our page “Tinnitus explained

    Find out more about our Tinnitus Support Group for Marlow & Farnham Common and read about future events

    Get in touch with us to make an appointment for a tinnitus assessment.

     

  • Summer hearing health tips

    Summer Hearing Health Tips

    With the summer months approaching, our thoughts go to holidays, working in the garden and if the weather holds maybe some outdoor theatre and concerts. That means it is also time to think about our summer hearing health. Here are some of our summer hearing health tips.

    Holidays

    Your hearing aid accessories are vital parts of your holiday packing list so do check a week or so before that you have enough batteries and domes for your trip. It’s a good idea to change the wax guards too before you set off – please contact us for an appointment if you would like us to service your hearing aids before your holiday.

    If you are travelling to a country with high humidity, I would recommend investing in a hearing aid dehumidifier. These small pots use a dessicant to draw any moisture from the hearing aid overnight.

    Swimming

    When the weather is hot, a dip in a swimming pool is just the way to cool off, but do take some precautions against developing a case of Swimmer’s Ear. All water contains bacteria but there are higher levels in untreated water such as river and sea water. When water containing bacteria gets trapped in the ear, it is in the right environment – a nice warm ear canal – and the bacteria start to multiply and this may lead to an infection in the skin within the ear casing inflammation, which can become very painful.

    Follow these recommendations to reduce the risk of Swimmer’s Ear:

    1. Use a swimming cap or ear plugs to minimise the amount of water going into your ears.

    2. Dry ears thoroughly after swimming. If you feel you have any water trapped in your ear canal, lean your head over towards your shoulder, jiggle your ear lobe and gravity should do the rest, allowing the water to drain out. Never use cotton buds to try and mop up any water.

    3. Do not try and remove any ear wax other than wiping it away from the entrance of your ear canal with a flannel or tissue. Again, never use cotton buds to remove ear wax. If you feel that you have a build-up of wax, please make an appointment to see us so that we can safely remove it.

    Managing Noise

    It is good hearing health to protect our ears from excessive noise. Noise protection applies to all the family, not just those wearing hearing aids and not just the obvious times such as loud concerts or sporting events, but also when using electrical tools such as lawnmowers and DIY power tools. Help In Hearing can provide inexpensive over-the-counter noise plugs – please contact us for more details.

    Social Events

    Summer is the time for meeting with friends and family and barbecues and parties. Your family will be delighted that you are taking care of your hearing health by wearing your hearing aids, so if you have not worn your aids for a while, it’s time to get them out again. Do make an appointment with us for a clean and service if required.

    Summer hearing health tips – where to find out more

    Read our advice on What to do if your hearing aids get wet

    Read our tips on Travelling with hearing loss

    Get in touch with us if you’d like your hearing aids serviced or for ear wax removal.

     

    Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash

  • Getting rid of ear wax safely

    Getting rid of ear wax safely

    Ear wax (also known as cerumen), a bodily secretion that many of us could live without, is actually very useful for our health – in small amounts. As a natural cleanser that moves from the inside of the ear canal to the outside, ear wax traps and gathers dirt, debris, dead skin cells, dust and hair. Moreover, ear wax has antibacterial properties, keeping the ears lubricated and protecting them from various infections. In this article we look at getting rid of ear wax safely and the reasons why excess or impacted ear wax can become a problem.

    Why do some people have problems with ear wax?

    Our ENT ear wax microsuction equipment
    Our ENT ear wax microsuction equipment

    Everyone makes ear wax, but some people produce more than others. This is due to many reasons. The amount and quality of ear wax each person produces depends on their genetics. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that a high percentage of East Asians produce dry ear wax, whereas people of African or European ancestry tend to produce wet ear wax.

    On the other hand, people with small or narrow ear canals can also experience ear wax build-up, since these anatomical characteristics make it more difficult for ear wax to exit the ear canal naturally.

    People with hearing aids are also prone to ear wax build-up, since they have a foreign body in their ear every day which can lead to a blockage and impacted ear wax over time. For the same reason, it’s not recommended to use cotton swabs to remove excess ear wax.

    How do I know if I need to see a specialist?

    If you feel that your ears are full or you are in pain, then chances are that your ears are impacted. Other symptoms that suggest you are in need of ear wax removal include loss of hearing, ringing ears (tinnitus), itchy ear canals, discharges and/or smelly ears.

    If you have any of the above symptoms, you should book an ear wax removal appointment. It’s really important to see whether ear wax is causing pain or discomfort, since ear problems can also be caused by other conditions. The audiologist will look into your ears carefully and determine whether they are blocked by excessive ear wax.

    Ear wax microsuction

    Before and after ear wax microsuction
    Before and after ear wax removal with microsuction

    If ear wax removal is necessary, then there are many options. In some cases, irrigation (removal by water) works well. However, irrigation does not always dislodge the entirety of the ear wax blockage, particularly if the ear canal is narrow. Microsuction is an alternative, innovative method of cleaning the ear canal, using a suction device guided by a microscopic camera. Microsuction is quick, safe and does not need pre-treatment. The audiologist will use a camera to navigate around the ear canal, safely removing the excess ear wax. In most cases, the blockage is removed in a few minutes.

    Cleaning your ears properly

    To prevent future problems with your ears, don’t stick anything inside them. Only use cotton swabs on the outside of your ear canal and if you feel uncomfortable, see an audiologist. More importantly, stay away from ear candles or any DIY remedies which are advertised as natural ear wax removal methods, since they can harm your ears.

    Getting rid of ear wax safely – where to find out more

    At Help in Hearing we generally offer microsuction but occasionally we carry out irrigation (water) or “dry removal” using a small probe. The method will depend on your specific history and condition of the ear. No GP referral is required. 

    Managed by qualified audiologists

    Only our carefully selected, fully qualified and experienced audiologists with additional training in aural microsuction ear wax removal will carry out ear wax microsuction.

    Please fill in our online form to request an ear wax removal appointment.

    Or read more about ear wax on our Ear Wax Management page.

  • Selecting an audiologist

    What should you look for when selecting an audiologist?

    It is estimated that one in six people in the UK have hearing loss and fail to address the issue for up to ten years. That’s 10 million people who are not addressing their health! And it’s not an age related situation as 3.6 million people with hearing loss are of working age. Staggeringly just less than half (4.8 million people) wear hearing aids and less than 15% (1.4 million) use them regularly. Leaving 3.8 million people that are not addressing the issue, and trying to manage day to day with one of their senses underperforming. Like any other health situation such as sight, addressing hearing loss early ensures you can remedy the problem and continue to enjoy an active and full lifestyle. Research shows that ongoing stimulation of the cognitive functions allows the brain to keep engaged and maintain good memory and communication skills.

    If you are one of the majority that has sidestepped hearing issues and you’re ready to bring your hearing back in line, then you need to know what you should look for when selecting an audiologist. Below we highlight the key factors and choices you need to make. 

    Audiology experience

    The Help in Hearing team - independent, family run hearing care practice
    The Help in Hearing team: (Left to Right) Gilly, Kevin, Selma, Jan

    Your hearing is so complex that it is vital for a hearing assessment to be comprehensive and thorough. A consultation with an experienced audiologist is the first step on your journey.

    Hearing technology is advancing at great speed, but your hearing needs more than just technology. It also needs experience.

    At Help in Hearing we are a local, independent, family owned, hearing healthcare practice with a combined 50 years’ experience. We are proud to offer our clients unrivalled standards of professional hearing health care.

    Our friendly but highly professional approach has earned us life-long client relationships built on trust, reliability and continuity of care. Many have become friends and are self-proclaimed members of our Help in Hearing family. Our hearing care specialists have exceptional audiological knowledge and their experience in all aspects of hearing care is unrivalled. They are committed to ongoing and continuing education, frequently attending seminars, courses and trade shows to keep up with newest ideas and developments in the industry.

    Independent audiologist

    When you decide to seek services from independent audiologists, such as ourselves, you are looked after by professionals who are committed to best service, attention and solutions with access to products from a range of manufacturers. Our business exists entirely from recommendations and referrals from clients who have experienced our bespoke, personal but highly professional approach. The latest Which? report confirmed that the highest satisfactory score for hearing care providers was achieved by the smaller, independent local businesses, because to us “it’s personal.”

    Hearing health

    Hearing health is important to us
    Kevin with one of our clients

    Our hearing health should be equally as important as eye checks, dental checks and hearing checks and should become the norm from a very early age. We at Help in Hearing advise that hearing tests should be carried out regularly from early childhood through to our senior years.

    At Help in Hearing we understand that caring for your hearing health is just as important as caring for the rest of your overall health and wellbeing. By looking after all aspects of your hearing, ear care and hearing protection, we make sure you remain socially active, stay confident in your working environment and ascertain your continuing enjoyment of your hearing health.

    Listening

    An audiologist should listen to your story, establish your family history, find out any related medical information and understand your particular requirements.

    Evaluating

    Evaluating your hearing requirements will include a number of tests using state of the art diagnostic testing systems. You can’t know this on your own. You may think you are losing your hearing, but maybe you only need to have excess ear wax removed.

    Recommending

    Your hearing requirements are unique, so it’s important that a personal treatment plan is created for you that exactly matches your lifestyle, technology requirements and budget.

    After care

    Aftercare is very important
    Aftercare is very important to us

    Your audiologist should see you for as many follow-ups as necessary, to ensure that your new device is comfortable and as effective as possible. It is also helpful if the costs of your care can be spread across a hearing plan membership programme.

    Client Testimonials

    Client testimonials
    Make sure you get some recommendations from other clients

    Does your audiologist have good recommendations from other clients? Check out their website and ask to talk to other clients to find out what they think. Or look at online sites such as GroHawk where you can look at reviews. Some of the testimonials we’ve received from our clients:

    “Selma gave me the most intensive hearing test, much more sophisticated than at the chemist”

    “Selma went above and beyond the call of duty. It’s the personal touch that you just wouldn’t find in the high street.”

    “I got sick of seeing so called audiologists who sold me expensive hearing aids without explaining how to use them.”

    “I made a lot of mistakes in seeking help and wasting many thousands of dollars and pounds on people who were merely hearing aid salesman posing as audiologists.”

    “I recommend Selma to everybody, because not only is she brilliant but she knows how to break through that most insidious aspect of loss of hearing which I see all around me, denial that it is happening, born out of fear.”

    “No effort has been spared to ensure that my hearing aids have been adjusted to give me the maximum possible benefit.”

    Commitment to quality of hearing care

    Commitment to quality of hearing care

    At Help in Hearing, our commitment to quality of care is unfaltering. We give you as much time as you need and never give up on anyone. Our aim is to help you maintain your hearing health and enjoy life to the full. We ask our clients to rate our service and are very proud to receive an overall score of 94% from our client feedback surveys to date.

    Selecting an audiologist – For us, it’s personal.

    If you’re based in the Buckinghamshire, UK area, and would like to talk to our experienced audiologists or come in for a thorough hearing assessment, please get in touch either by email or via our website form. You can also give us a ring on 0345 222 0579.

     

  • Hearing loss in young people

    Why hearing loss is becoming more common in young people

    We accept that hearing loss is something we may have to deal with as we get older. However, a growing number of young people are now reporting hearing loss to some degree. The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.1 billion people aged between 12 and 35 are at risk of losing their hearing. Below are a few of the problems causing hearing loss in young people, and how we can prevent it.

    Modern technology

    With the rise of modern technology, including personal listening devices, stereo systems, and surround-sound cinema, young people today are being constantly exposed to loud noises. Prolonged exposure to loud music is known to cause tinnitus and even permanent hearing loss. To prevent damage, turn down the volume on your musical devices and consider wearing earplugs to live music events.

    Alcohol

    Studies have shown that alcohol may inhibit your middle ear’s acoustic reflex, which tells your muscles to contract in response to loud noise. The less sensitive your acoustic reflex, the more at risk you are of damaging your hearing. To prevent this, consider reducing your alcohol consumption when you know you will be exposed to loud noise, such as at a live music event.

    Noise pollution

    Young people are reigniting city centre living. Whilst this is having positive consequences for the vibrancy of our cities, noise pollution is also on the increase. From traffic and construction work to community events, city centre living is a hazard for young residents’ hearing. Even living next door to a noisy dog can put you at risk. To prevent hearing loss, plant bushes and trees around your home to block out noise. Wear earplugs at night to give your ears a reprieve. Alternatively, invest in soundproof insulation to keep the city noise outside.

    Going forward

    There are many things you can do to prevent hearing loss in young people in our noisy, modern world. Going forward, ensure you get regular hearing check-ups. Identifying a problem early on is vital to avoid permanent hearing loss.

    If you do notice a decline in your hearing, consider seeking advice about hearing aids. Studies suggest that attitudes toward hearing aids are becoming more positive. Hearing aids are no longer associated with seniors or being slow. In fact, 60% of young people now say they “would not hesitate to use them, if needed” to solve their hearing problems for good.

    Hearing loss in young people – where to find out more

    If you’d like to find out more about how to protect your hearing, visit our Hearing Protection page. 

    At Help in Hearing we can advise on the most appropriate hearing protection from custom made solutions, in the ear monitors, electronic noise suppressors for those that shoot or a non-customised product, should you need something urgent for a one off event. We also supply customised swim moulds. If you’d like to book an appointment to discuss your hearing or have your hearing tested, please fill in our online form.

  • How to drive safely with hearing loss

    How to drive safely with hearing loss – top tips revealed

    While the sense of sight is the most important aspect when driving, the sense of hearing is equally helpful. It helps you hear the raucous horn of an irritated driver, detect approaching emergency vehicles, or even remind you that your indicators are on. People with hearing loss do not drive any more dangerously than other drivers. However, it never hurts to take extra safety precautions when on the road. Keep these tips on how to drive safely with hearing loss in mind anytime you’re behind the wheel:

    Eliminate distractions

    Due to technological advancements, today’s hearing aids are marvels. They feature sensitive microphones tailored to differentiate between background noises and speech. Even with hearing aids, it’s very important to avoid any form of distractions.

    Here’s what you need to do:

    • Reduce your car’s audio volume
    • If you have passengers, ask them to keep their conversation to a minimum
    • Always close your car window
    • Avoid using your phone, drinking, eating

    Use your vision (rely on visual clues)

    Your sight should compensate for your reduced hearing ability. While good sight is essential for all drivers, it’s a must-have if you’re suffering from hearing loss.

    Some of the things you can do to amplify your vision include:

    • Always ensure your windows and windscreen are clean
    • Buy an extended rear view mirror
    • Keep your attention focused and eyes on the road
    • Be on the lookout for flashing lights at railway crossings and on approaching vehicles

    Have a set of hearing aids to improve your hearing performance

    Another way of becoming a safer driver is by purchasing and using hearing aids. They make it effortless to focus on sounds (warning signals, sirens, and horns) which matter on the road.

    Do you already own hearing aids? If yes, take these extra precautions when you’re driving:

    • Have your hearing assessed frequently
    • Always wear your hearing aids when driving
    • Always have an additional set of batteries

    Your car must be in top condition at all times

    For drivers with hearing loss, keeping a car in optimum working condition is an absolute necessity. Strange car noises might occur unheard, which can turn out to be a safety hazard not only to you and your passengers, but to other drivers as well. Consequently, you must stay up to date when it comes to routine maintenance to ensure the vehicle is in top condition. 

    Whether you have hearing challenges or hear well, there’s no doubt that driving demands a lot of responsibility. Part of the responsibility is to take care of your safety and that of others on the road. The above are just some of the tips to help you drive safely with hearing loss.

    How to drive safely with hearing loss – where to find out more

    If you think your hearing needs to be assessed, do get in touch with us and we can arrange a thorough hearing check-up. We also now provide several brands of hearing aids that are rechargeable so if you’re travelling away from home you can take your charger with you and not have to rely on batteries. 

    Image: Driving a car by Erik Starck licensed under Creative commons 4

  • Can mindfulness help tinnitus?

    Can mindfulness help tinnitus?

    We have invited local MBCT company Paron Mindfulness to run a workshop at our Marlow Tinnitus Support Group on October 15th. To give you an insight into the benefits of mindfulness, Costas Lambropoulos and Dr Charlotte Morris have written this exclusive guest editorial especially for our clients.

    Mindfulness - waterfallCan mindfulness help your tinnitus?

    Living with a condition such as tinnitus can be challenging. The experience of tinnitus and how it affects your daily life and wellbeing will be different for everyone. You may feel upset about the changes it has brought into your life, you may feel frustrated or angry, disheartened about the future or feel that others don’t understand or appreciate what it is like living with tinnitus.

    There may be times when you feel like you have turned a corner and other times when it feels like you cannot bear it for another moment. At these times it might be that you end up withdrawing from activities, become preoccupied with the sound or negative thoughts, or just run around keeping busy in order to hold the difficult feelings at bay and trying to ignore them. Either way, it is very easy to lose perspective and lose touch with the richness of the life that is possible. In this article we look at whether mindfulness can help with your tinnitus symptoms.

    What is mindfulness?

    Mindfulness is a meditation practice which seeks to cultivate awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness is not new and is rooted in ancient wisdom and practices. In the last 40 years, there has been a growing interest in whether Mindfulness can help with some of the challenges of modern life, including how to live well whatever difficulties we face.

    Through meditation practice, mindfulness enables us to be sensitive to the way we react to what appears in our lives moment by moment. We can begin to become aware of the way in which we tend to get caught up in trying to escape or avoid what we don’t like and hang on to pleasant experiences. Of course, it is natural to want to do this, but it does mean that most of the time we are not conscious of how quickly and habitually we react to our experience, sometimes in ways that are very unhelpful. We can train ourselves to develop an accurate awareness of what our experience actually is, rather than the story that pops into our mind immediately. This can give us the space to choose how we would like to respond rather than be pulled into an automatic stream of reactions.

    How mindfulness can help

    Mindfulness - BoatMindfulness is not a quick fix and it is not an approach that will appeal to, or suit, everyone. However, it can help us to change how we relate to our experience of tinnitus and the distress that it can cause. There is an old Buddhist analogy that seeks to help us understand our experience of suffering:

    “When an ordinary person experiences pain (either physical or emotional pain) they worry, agonise and feel distraught. Then they feel two types of pain, one physical and one mental. It’s as if this person was pierced by an arrow, and then immediately afterwards by a second arrow, and they experience the pain of two arrows.”

    Based on this understanding of suffering, our distress is not only related to the discomfort we might experience with tinnitus or the actual sensations or pitch of the sound that are present. It is our interpretation of what is taking place and the meaning we give to this that can either help us cope or intensify our distress and our tendency to react. It is as if the sound or high pitch might be the first arrow and our thoughts and reactions are a second arrow that penetrates even further and can make us feel helpless, angry or anxious. Sometimes the “noise” of our minds can create more distress than just the noise and symptoms of tinnitus.

    Fresh and friendly curiosity

    Mindfulness - forestIn his book “Full Catastrophe Living” Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to certain attitudes that can aid us in our mindfulness practice and allow us to relate to our moment-to-moment experience in a more helpful way. These attitudes can be particularly beneficial and support us at times when we feel overwhelmed by our experience or wish it wasn’t there.

    For example, approaching the present with a fresh and friendly curiosity and a non-judgemental attitude can make a significant difference to how we experience things in everyday life. This applies to any experiences, whether the mind tends to label them as pleasant or unpleasant. So rather than immediately striving to fix what we don’t like, we have a new path that, through practice, can minimise the levels of distress we experience and possibly maximise the pleasure of any given moment.

    Mindfulness is often taught in an eight-week programme. These courses start very simply, for example with some eating practices, that help us to become aware how often we are not with our present moment experience. Building on this foundation, we can begin to explore what it is like to intentionally bring ourselves into the present. Through practice, we may begin to appreciate that tinnitus is only one part of our experience – there are also may other sensations and experiences that are here in any moment. A mindfulness course can help us to discover a new way of approaching our body, senses, thoughts and feelings. The practice can gradually help us not just notice discomfort and difficulty but also ease and joy in our everyday life.

    About Paron Mindfulness

    Paron Mindfulness is a partnership between Dr Charlotte Morris and Costas Lambropoulos. They have trained as Mindfulness Teachers at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and have been teaching Mindfulness in the NHS and in private practice. Charlotte and Costas have been delivering mindfulness courses for people with long-term conditions for the last five years. They are particularly interested in exploring how mindfulness practice can enhance our sense of wellbeing. Charlotte and Costas deliver workshops, courses and retreats with the intention of practicing mindfulness meditations and encouraging participants to explore how mindfulness can help them in their own lives. For more information on upcoming events please visit our website or email us. 

    Can mindfulness help tinnitus? – Where to find out more

    To discuss your symptoms of tinnitus or have a full hearing check, please get in touch

    You can also read more about tinnitus on our Tinnitus Explained page.

    Head over to our Tinnitus Management page to find out the various options available for management of your symptoms.

    We hold regular Tinnitus Support Group events for people living in the Marlow and Farnham Common areas of Buckinghamshire. Find out the date of our next events and topics to be covered by visiting our Tinnitus Support Group page.

  • Do I need ear wax removal?

    Do I need ear wax removal?

    What is ear wax?

    Ear wax is a natural secretion found in the ear. It helps to keep the ear canal lubricated while protecting the ears against dirt, dust and bacteria. Without a certain amount of ear wax, the ears will become dry and increasingly prone to infection. Wax or cerumen, as it is medically known, can build up, causing problems within the ear. This can happen over time if an individual has dry, narrow or hairy ear canals.

    It’s not always a good idea to try and clear the wax yourself. Pushing cotton buds, hair clips or any other similar implements down the ear canal can lead to irritation. You will only agitate the ear canal, stripping it of its natural oils, causing discomfort and itchiness. When showering or swimming, water can get into the ear expanding the wax. This may give a sensation of blockage in the ear and for tinnitus sufferers, increasing the perception of tinnitus.

    What should you do about ear wax removal?

    The build-up of ear wax can also vary from person to person depending on their age, diet and environment. If wax build-up is causing problems with hearing loss, partial deafness or is uncomfortable, it’s time to seek the services of audiologist specialists. Ears with too much wax in them can certainly be troublesome and in some cases, painful. If you have discharge coming from the ears, don’t attempt any home remedies, hearing health is too important. An independent audiologist will provide all the advice and support needed in alleviating ear wax build-up.

    Ways to remove ear wax

    If ear wax removal is necessary, it can be removed by irrigation (water) or if possible, “dry removal” using a small probe. This can’t be undertaken however if an individual has had ear surgery, a perforated ear drum or a recent infection. Another method is ear wax microsuction, which is a procedure useing gentle suction to remove excessive or troublesome ear wax. It is performed with the aid of a surgical microscope and a calibrated suction device, without the introduction of any materials or liquids. Ear wax microsuction is one of the safest, most effective, quickest and most comfortable methods of removing ear wax. Whichever form of ear wax removal is best for you, an experienced audiologist will explain it before treatment begins. Many people, in fact, find the removal of ear wax quite a pleasant experience. Once the wax is removed, sound won’t be muffled anymore and your ears will feel better too.

    Do I need ear wax removal? Where to find out more

    To find out more about ear wax removal, visit our Ear Wax Removal page. Or please fill in our contact form to get in touch or book an appointment for ear wax removal.