A Guide to Healthy Hearing

What do we mean by healthy hearing? Why is it so important?

According to the World Health Organization, more than 50% of all hearing loss is preventable. Hearing loss caused by loud music, headphones and other environmental noise is on the increase.

Knowing the risks and taking steps now to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss, while addressing age-related hearing loss and preventing further damage, gives you the power to hear more, for longer. We caught up with Audiologist Emily Balmer, Director at The Hearing Suite to find out more and have put together some guidance on maintaining healthy hearing.

How can you prevent hearing loss?

Healthy hearing starts with looking at your daily activities, identifying the ways you could be damaging your hearing and taking steps to prevent further hearing damage. There are small changes we can all make in our everyday lives that can have a big impact on our hearing health.

Be more aware of your hearing and ear care

Many of us are used to getting our own and our family’s eyesight checked on a regular basis. We are aware of the need to protect our eyesight and are used to wearing glasses or seeing other people wearing glasses for reading, driving and other activities. Being able to look after your hearing starts with identifying what is normal for you and familiarising ourselves with the signs and symptoms of hearing loss.

Adjust your appliances and devices to prevent hearing damage

Noise induced hearing loss is on the increase. Once you are more aware of your hearing and the importance of preserving it you may want to look at the devices you use on a regular basis. This includes adjusting the volume on your TV, radio and smartphone, especially if you are using headphones.

Wear ear protection at concerts and noisy work settings

There are a range of discrete options available to protect you from permanent hearing damage while at work or listening to your favourite band. While music venues are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when things open back up, pay attention to the volume and how close you are to the speakers. It is a good idea to take time out at a noisy venue and to give your ears a break following exposure to loud music.

Keep your ears in tip top shape

A build-up of naturally occurring ear wax can have an impact on your ability to hear clearly. Speak to your pharmacist about over the counter remedies and if problems persist, speak to your GP. Find out more on ear wax build-up[1] from the NHS.

Protect your head when cycling or taking part in other sports

Traumatic head injuries can cause several issues related to hearing including tinnitus and hearing loss. It is a good idea to take steps to protect your head when working in environments where there is a risk of head injury as well as wearing appropriate headgear when taking part in sports like cycling, boxing and cricket.

Have your hearing tested

Heredity, exposure to loud noise and ageing are all commonly related to hearing loss. Working in a noisy environment can result in hearing damage. A family history of hearing issues could also be a red flag that is an indication that you need to watch out for early symptoms of hearing loss Moreover, it is estimated that more than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, rising to 71% of people over the age of 70.[2] If you are in one of these higher risk groups or have noticed a change in your hearing, a hearing test, either through a referral from your GP or directly with a private hearing specialist will provide you with a baseline for your hearing and a greater understanding of any steps you can take to ensure that you hear more for longer.

Read more about the importance of hearing loss awareness and healthy hearing at www.rayovac.eu/WorldHearingDay

If you have found this information useful why not take a minute to share it on Facebook or Twitter*?

Applications open for 2020 European Audiologist of the Year Award

The hunt for Europe’s top audiologist has begun as online entries open for this year’s ‘European Audiologist of the Year’ competition.

Now in its thirteenth year, the competition offers the opportunity for audiologists from across Europe to compete for the title of country winner as well as for the coveted top spot, Europe’s Audiologist of the Year 2020. The award is organised by RAYOVAC®, a world-leading hearing aid battery manufacturer*, together with sponsors Audio Infos, a leading publication for the audiology industry, the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), which represents the major European hearing instrument manufacturers, offering smart hearing aid and implant solutions for people hard of hearing, and the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH).

Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at RAYOVAC® said: “This annual event celebrating excellence in the hearing care profession has become one of the highlights in the industry calendar. The competition continues to grow, providing outstanding audiologists from across Europe with the recognition they deserve. “The competition continues to grow and this year we have made it even easier for audiologists and their nominating patients to enter, by bringing the application process online. This is being supported by a step-by-step entry guide which interested audiologists and their patients can review for advice on crafting a winning entry. We are looking forward to another bumper year of applications for 2020.” 
Europe’s top audiologist will receive not only the recognition from their peers in the Industry, as the award is presented at an Evening of Excellence at EUHA, later in the year but also a cash prize , a PR package to help them promote their practice or department, as well as a year’s subscription to Audio Infos magazine. The patient who submits the winning entry will also receive a cash prize. 
Winner of the European Audiologist of the Year title in 2019, Paula Cook of Aston Hearing in Amersham, went into audiology following her own experiences as a parent of two children with hearing loss. She impressed the judges by going above and beyond in her dedication to patient care, travelling to Turkey and giving up her holiday time to fit a former patient and her neighbour with hearing aids.   Describing her feelings on winning the award she said: “I am really honoured to have been crowned European Audiologist of the Year 2019. Who would have thought that my journey, starting with my children being born with a hearing loss, would bring me here? It’s amazing.”

General Secretary of EHIMA, Dr Stefan Zimmer, said: “We are delighted to support the Audiologist of the Year 2020 competition and showcase the outcomes of exceptional patient care. Audiologists across Europe are having a profound impact on their patients’ lives, affecting them at a deep and emotional level. “This impact is what the judges are looking for in a winning entry. What audiologists are doing through outstanding patient care and through the sharing and application of new technologies can be life-changing for patients. This award is about so much more than hearing.”  Entries for the Audiologist of the Year competition for 2020 will close on Friday 26th June. Nominations are invited from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. For more information and to download the step-by-step guide or make a nomination please visit: www.audiologistoftheyear.eu
Like the Audiologist of the Year on Facebook on www.facebook.com/AudiologistoftheYear or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AOTY_EU.

*Based on internal company estimates of worldwide market share.

An interview with James Galt, the FA and McDonalds National Volunteer of the Year 2019

James Galt, 19, was recently awarded the title of National Volunteer of the Year by the Football Association and McDonalds. James, from Lancashire, was born profoundly deaf, but has turned his passion and enthusiasm for sport into a career. Alongside his job at an activity centre, James volunteers as a football coach at his old primary school and supports the North West Disability Futsal Hub. James’ coaching skills and empathy for the students were noticed by parents on the sidelines, who nominated him for the prestigious FA and McDonald’s grassroots football award. He was thrilled to find out that he had won the national title. 

We caught up with James to find out more about his incredible achievement.

1.       Congratulations on winning the award! How does it feel to be honoured for your work as a deaf football coach?

It feels amazing to have won the award! I found out from my mum as she took the call from the FA in London to say that not only had I won the local award, but also the national award as well. I was up against 43 other nominees and I was the overall winner. Mum explained that the panel of judges included the likes of Sir Geoff Hurst and Stephanie Moore. It was a real honour to be selected and exciting, if a little nerve-wracking, heading to London for the award ceremony. 

2.       Tell us how/why you got into deaf football coaching?

I’d always enjoyed sport, but I didn’t start playing football until I was 12 as some coaches struggled to communicate with me. My mum ran a deaf family group, which involved playing football, and I loved it. I attended some disability football sessions ran by the FA, and I started playing futsal – a five-a-side version of football which is played with a heavier ball – which I thoroughly enjoyed. At futsal, BSL support was provided and I made new friends. It showed me how great deaf coaching could be. When I was 16, although I was too old to play at the FA disability hub, the coaches let me come back to help them – and this was my first venture into coaching.

I enjoyed coaching so much that after my GCSEs, I started studying a diploma in football studies at Myerscough College and obtained coaching qualifications as part of that. I approached my old primary school to run some sessions and the coaching went from there. I also support the coaches at a local deaf school. I am now working at an activity centre which I love, but my ultimate aim is to become a full-time coach.

3.       Are there any barriers you had to overcome in your coaching career?

I find it can be more difficult communicating with a player I haven’t worked with before. Coaching players you have developed a rapport with is easier, as you understand each other. You know how to get the best out of them, and you know their personalities too. I initially found communicating a challenge when I began to coach at my old primary school. When I met new players, it was difficult to communicate to understand their footballing knowledge and skill.

I also find coaching in the rain a challenge. I’m lucky as nearly all my sessions are indoors, but when I was at college most of the sessions were outside. The rain makes it more difficult as I have to remove my hearing aid device, cover my implant or rely solely on the BSL support. I have found the best solution for coaching in the rain is an ‘aqua pack’, which covers my implant in the rain and means I can hear the players and other coaches.

4.       Do you believe your hearing loss has given you any advantages in progressing in coaching?

I don’t believe my deafness has given me any particular advantages in coaching, as communicating has been difficult at times. However, I would say that having a disability can enable you to access opportunities in the sports you are interested in pursuing. There are specialist football and futsal teams for all different disabilities and great opportunities for people to access national pathways for sport.

5.       Do you find BSL an advantage in football and sports in general?

Using BSL in football means the coaches do not have to shout across the pitch at you. Even hearing players may not always hear instructions so signing can help to communicate things. However, working at the disability hub, some players suffer from visual impairments, which means that they also require speech as well as signs. 

As a coach, you learn that visual coaching works well with deaf players, so you ensure that there is a visual demonstration alongside verbal communications (and/or BSL), so everyone understands what has been said.

6.       How has becoming involved in coaching benefited you as a person? Has it increased your confidence?

Coaching has enabled me to continue to play football, which I love. I have also gained more confidence outside of the sport. As a coach, I build relationships with the new people I meet, all the time. Gaining the confidence to build a rapport with new people, means I can communicate better with them, since I struggle to talk with people I don’t know well. Having the confidence to speak to new people has helped me both with coaching and life in general.

7.       Tell us more about your experiences with the volunteer deaf community – how supportive have they been?

I have made great friendships through my role as a volunteer. At the futsal hub for example, I offer BSL support and I worked with a goalkeeper who uses BSL. As I was able to communicate what the coaches wanted to him, we got on well and socialised between training.

As well as my voluntary work as a football coach, I have also helped other coaches in the community. For example, I went along with a coach to help him communicate with the students at a deaf school. I gave him pointers on using bibs and the floor as a vibration to alert so the players can feel it or hear a low frequency noise, rather than blowing a whistle.

My confidence has improved dramatically over the years. I’ve been helping with the ear foundation in Nottingham during their residential weeks, and it’s great to meet people from different ages and countries across Europe. Everyone gets to know each other and just has fun.

8.       What advice would you give to someone with a hearing loss who is interested volunteering opportunities?

Give yourself time. I think it helps to start small, doing something you enjoy or know well, with people you know, so that you can build up your confidence from there. That’s what I did, and it’s still the approach I take now.

Check out our blog written by England Deaf Rugby Union player Beth Weller.

How humidity, temperature and altitudes can affect hearing aid battery life

If you’re a hearing aid user, have you ever wondered why the life of the battery in your device changes when you go on holiday in a different climate? Or perhaps you’re a keen walker or mountaineering enthusiast and have noticed battery life on your hearing aid is affected the higher you climb?

Paul Deeble, Technical Liaison Manager at leading hearing aid battery manufacturer RAYOVAC©, talks about how certain environments can affect the life of your hearing aid battery.

Humidity & heat

The humidity within an environment can affect your hearing aid’s battery life.

Paul explains: “Hearing aid batteries contain zinc air chemical technology, which can be sensitive to the presence or absence of moisture in the air. If you are in an environment that is high in humidity, possibly even wet, hearing aid batteries may absorb moisture through the holes that are designed to take in air to activate it, and subsequently this can shorten battery life.”

If you have spent a number of hours in a high humidity environment, it is recommended that you allow your hearing aid and its batteries to dry out when you are not wearing it. Opening the battery door and leaving it in a cool, dry place will help to remove any condensation or moisture from within the device.

You could also use a hearing aid dehumidifier to help maintain your device.  However, remember to remove the batteries from the device first.  Using a dehumidifier with batteries in situ can unfortunately have an adverse effect on the batteries by drying them out.

The opposite of a high humidity environment is, yes, you guessed it, low humidity, and that can also have an impact on your hearing aid batteries. Paul continues; “If the environment is very dry and hot, such as you’d find in a warm holiday destination, this could cause your hearing aid batteries to dry out much quicker than they normally would, which will also reduce battery lifespan.”

Cold Conditions

Reduced temperatures may lead to a lowering of the hearing aid battery voltage during use as the zinc air reaction can be subdued.  This can, in extremely cold conditions, lead to a premature ‘low battery signal’ from the hearing aid, giving the perception of reduced battery life.  However, the greatest risk to your hearing aid and its batteries in cold environments is of condensation forming within the hearing aid when moving from a cold to a warm environment.

“When the air temperature drops, your hearing aid will also cool down,” says Paul. “If you are outdoors in the cold and then you go inside where the temperature is higher, condensation could form on your device. This can cause moisture damage to the electronics and/or the hearing aid battery.  It is rather like wearing spectacles in winter, moving from an outside cold environment to an inside, warmer atmosphere with more moisture in the air where your lenses sometimes ‘fog’ as warm air meets the cold surface.”

Moisture damage can also occur when your hearing aid comes into contact with rain, snow, or even perspiration from heavy exercise or exertion.

If you are expecting to be in a colder environment for more than a short time, it is recommended you wear a hat, earmuffs or a headband to help protect your ears and hearing aid device. As well as preventing condensation from forming on your device, it can also stop sweat, rain or snow from damaging the hearing aid or the battery.

If you do accidently get your hearing aid damp, you can try using a hearing aid dehumidifier to dry it out, but again, remember to remove the batteries first.

For more information on taking care of your hearing aid and its batteries in the colder months, visit our – page here: https://rayovac.eu/en/media-centre/articles/caring-for-your-hearing-aids-and-batteries-in-autumn-and-winter

High altitudes

If you live in a place high above sea level or spend time up in the mountains, you may notice a difference to the life of your hearing aid batteries. This is because the percentage of oxygen in the air decreases as altitude increases.

“At high altitude, there is less oxygen in the air, which may cause the battery to reach its endpoint earlier or lead to false low battery signals.” says Paul. “Combined with normally low temperature at mountain-high altitudes, the effects on your hearing device’s batteries could be quite remarkable.”

If you are planning to go somewhere that is of high altitude, it is recommended you take extra hearing aid batteries with you, just in case.

Active Core Plus

Our RAYOVAC® Extra and ProLine hearing aid batteries now contain Active Core Plus™ technology, providing improved cell consistency, longer lasting battery life and increased cell stability. Find out more on our Active Core Plus™ page.

Getting the most out of your hearing aid batteries

If you want more advice on how to prolong your hearing aid battery’s life, please read our guide to the factor affecting battery life here: Factors affecting Hearing Aid Battery Life



World-leading hearing aid battery manufacturer*, RAYOVAC®, is pleased to launch its new range of product upgrades into the European market and announce Europe’s top audiologist at EUHA 2019. 

The company, which earlier this year became part of the world’s largest battery business – Energizer Holdings Inc. – is welcoming delegates to its newly designed stand on the first day of this year’s event in Nuremberg, Germany.

Visitors are able to experience Active Core Plus™, RAYOVAC®’s next generation battery technology, showcased for the first time at this year’s EUHA.  

Building on the strong foundation of Active Core™ Technology, Active Core Plus™ is designed with more sophisticated functionality to meet the demands of modern-day devices. It consistently delivers excellent performance, quality and reliability – giving users an even better experience and peace of mind.

Paula Brinson-Pyke, Director of Marketing at RAYOVAC©, said: “At RAYOVAC©, we are constantly investing in and pushing the boundaries of hearing aid battery technology. We are delighted to introduce our longest lasting battery yet, Active Core Plus™, to the European market at this year’s EUHA Congress.

“We are looking forward to welcoming delegates to our stand over the coming days and explaining more about the improved battery life delivered by Active Core Plus™ and what this means for our professional customers and their business.

“We’ve worked with both hearing aid users and hearing professionals to develop a product that provides even longer lasting power in today’s most demanding devices and ultimately giving them the power to hear more.”

The new Active Core Plus™ is available to RAYOVAC© ProLine™ and Extra customers across Europe, enhancing the brand’s current offer for hearing professionals. It comes complete with a range of ProLine™ support tools including point of sale displays, bespoke pack branding, printed marketing materials and digital assets. 

EUHA attendees can also find out about the benefits of becoming a member of the ProLine™ Excellence Club, which supports audiology business growth and provides members with the tools they need to stand out in a competitive market place, including loyalty schemes and marketing programmes to encourage repeat visits and extra sales revenue.

According to a customer satisfaction survey conducted by RAYOVAC© in August 2019, 100% of ProLine™ customers are satisfied with the customised service and products they receive. RAYOVAC© ProLine™ was described by one survey respondent as: “consistently excellent and reliable.”

Paula continued: “In addition to benefiting from our product upgrades, all of our Proline™ Excellence Club members are able to profit from the wide ranging support tools, marketing and loyalty programmes we offer to help audiology businesses make the most of batteries as a revenue driver.” 

After the doors close at 5pm on the evening of the first day, delegates to the 64th annual EUHA Congress are invited to an Evening of Excellence and networking event on the RAYOVAC® stand, where they will be the first to hear the results of the prestigious 12th annual European Audiologist of the Year competition as the winner is announced. The occasion has become an annual highlight in the hearing industry calendar.

Active Core Plus

*Based on internal company estimates of worldwide market share

**Based on ANSI/IEC tests for sizes 312 and 13

Going to the gym and bodybuilding with hearing loss, by Max Osiris

Massimo Luliano, AKA Max Osiris, is a profoundly deaf bodybuilder from South-East London, UK. In a guest blog post for RAYOVAC, Max discusses his fitness journey and gives us his tips on starting out at the gym as a hard of hearing person.


The beginning of Max’s bodybuilding journey

I started at my very first gym three years ago. At that time, I had quite low confidence but I really wanted to make changes to my body. I was quite skinny, weighing about 82kg.

My friend and I went for one session; I remember thinking at the time; “what if I do something wrong or mishear things, it’s going to be embarrassing”. I was very nervous, to be honest.

As soon as I got in the gym and started some basic workouts that my friend showed me, I noticed that no-one was really looking. Everyone in the gym is usually only focusing on their own fitness journey. A lot of the worries slowly started disappearing as I kept on training for the rest of that session.

After that very first session, the ball started rolling and I was already researching routines and diets online – the more things went on, the more I learned. Bodybuilding is a learning curve; you don’t always have the knowledge about everything, but you can work around it by researching it online and talking to people.


Increased confidence and improved diet – Max’s progress now

Three years later, I’m a much happier person and a lot more satisfied with myself. I have become more confident, outgoing and not afraid to speak my mind. My weight has increased, which is much healthier. I have visited many gyms and learnt a lot from my visits.

I am now a member at a gym in Wallington. The gym has given me a self-discipline that I’ve never really had or developed before. Because of that, it has helped improve my concentration skills as well.

My diet has completely changed too – I opt for healthy protein-orientated meals and plan them weekly. I have also changed my diet to a vegan diet, not only based on how healthy and positive it is for the environment, but also because how my body benefits from it.

I usually prepare my food on the Sunday before the start of the week; this allows me to control what I eat and also makes it easy to grab my food and eat after workouts – it can be hard to fit in cooking when my time is usually taken up by work and bodybuilding.

Max’s tips for starting out in the gym if you have hearing loss

Don’t be afraid to step in

Everyone has to start somewhere! Every single person in the gym was most likely to be nervous when they first started, and they have probably made a few mistakes. No-one is really bothered about new people, and many people I’ve encountered have always been more than happy to help demonstrate or give tips.

Don’t expect results fast

It takes time for the hard work to show, it will develop over time. I was not the size I am now, back then; I certainly wasn’t last year and neither the year before – it is an ongoing process.

Maintain your fitness

When you are seeing results, it’s important to maintain your fitness. Muscles need to be constantly worked and fed correctly with a consistent diet in order to maintain their state. Protein-rich diets are very good for muscle maintenance. There are lots of nutritionists that can help you out; online ones are even better as you can email them – just make sure they hold nutritionist qualifications.

Correct etiquette can go a long way!

Make sure you are wary of your space; use your eyes to look around and ensure you aren’t blocking other people’s views, in the way of areas that people may need to get to, or interrupting workouts. That can irritate a lot of gym users. Always put your equipment back in the same place that you found it, no one likes having to spend time hunting for another matching dumbbell that’s been dumped somewhere else.

Use headphones to block out background noise.

Sometimes gyms can be noisy. It may be people grunting, shouting or loud music blaring out. It may be distracting for you, especially if you’re concentrating on your workout. I suggest using over-the-ear headphones with noise-cancelling and playing a personalised playlist, or turning off your hearing-aids if the noise is that bad (I personally have never had to do the latter).

Headphones have really helped me as I don’t get distracted with voices from different directions. It benefits me even more, as people tap me to get my attention more often when I wear headphones, which really helps!

Always bring extra hearing aid batteries with you.

You never know when your batteries will run out. I always keep a spare pack of Rayovac batteries in my gym bag, which are for emergencies. My batteries have gone flat in the gym many times, and while it didn’t affect my workout, it did make it slightly more difficult to communicate with hearing workout partners.

If you sweat a lot, invest in sweat covers for your hearing-aid.

Too much moisture can damage your hearing-aid; sweat covers stop that moisture getting inside and can also be easy to apply and remove. There are a few available online that can be easily ordered.


I really hope this blog piece has given you more of an insight, and has proven useful. Remember, being deaf makes no difference – anyone can achieve anything, no matter what disability they have.

If you have any more questions, you are always more than welcome to contact me on Instagram or Twitter – you can follow me on Instagram on @max_osiris and Twitter on @themaxosiris where I post my everyday life, gym routines and all sorts.

Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not Energizer.


Beth Weller from the England Deaf Rugby Union Women’s team discusses pursuing her ambitions with hearing loss.

Beth Weller is a Scrum-Half for England’s Deaf Rugby Union Women’s Side. Here she shared her personal experience with a rare form of ‘Cookie Bite’ hearing loss and discusses her tips for managing hearing loss when it comes to sports.

I have suffered from congenital hearing loss since birth. I was born 25 weeks premature, which was likely a factor of my particularly rare form of hearing loss.

I always struggled in school. I’d have difficulty keeping up with my classmates in lessons and often struggle to stay awake. My teachers would label me as lazy or naughty, attributing my difficulties as a lack of trying rather than my struggle to understand what was going on in the lesson.

My Mum repeatedly asked my doctor to test my hearing again, but they always attributed my varied loss of hearing to the effects of colds and sickness. We knew it had to be more – I was rarely sick.


When I was 11, I discovered I have a rare form of hearing loss known as “Cookie Bite Hearing Loss”. My audiologist helped me to understand what Cookie Bite Hearing Loss is. She gave me a cartoon audiogram to colour in, which showed the dip in the level of my hearing at the mid-frequency range. She explained to me that my hearing loss was mild, but the dip which forms the “cookie bite” shape in my audiogram is at the range which most speech and conversation happens.

The diagnosis of my Cookie Bite Hearing Loss explained why I found school so difficult. I was missing out on those key frequencies used in common speech, and coupled with the distracting background noise associated with school, I struggled in class and found it difficult to make friends. I felt isolated.

My hearing loss gradually became worse over the years and the problem got worse in high school. There was little to no support for pupils with hearing loss when I was in school. Although my school’s policy was to provide the correct support whilst not singling me out, the plan was flawed. In order to accommodate my hearing loss my desk was placed right at the front of the class, connecting it to the teacher’s. It felt like all eyes were on me and that only amplified the feeling of being different.

University was a better experience for me. I had plenty of academic support and received printed copies of the lectures, allowing me to really focus on understanding the content of the course.

How I found Rugby

Whilst at University, I became involved with England Deaf Rugby. I had a conversation with one of the men’s first team rugby players, who also has a hearing loss. He mentioned that England were recruiting for hard of hearing/deaf female players and encouraged me to attend my first training session. I was hooked. This was the first time I had met with other men and women who had hearing loss and shared a love of rugby.

My first game took place at Cardiff Arms Park. Pulling on the jersey for the first time was a special moment to me and one that I will never forget.

In April 2018, I was invited to Sydney, Australia, to take part in the World Deaf Rugby 7s Tournament, representing a Barbarians Side. Unfortunately, a few days before the tournament, this fell through, but I was asked to join the Australian Side. During this tournament, I wore the coveted gold Jersey and represented Australia against my own side.

To make this an even more memorable experience, my fiancé, who flew out to Sydney with me, proposed during our stay in Australia.

Beth Weller Representing England Deaf Rugby Union Women's Side

Never stop pursuing your ambitions if you’re hard of hearing

During the World Deaf 7s I met many different players from across the globe who play sports and I’ve now become part of a wider deaf community. Having a hearing impairment or being Deaf can be isolating at times, I’ve found playing sport with others who share the same disability has helped me build up a support network and given me a new-found sense of confidence.

Jodie Ounsley, one of our players, is just one example of how hearing loss should never prevent you from pursuing your ambitions to the highest level. Jodie has gone on to become an established deaf athlete signing for England Women’s 7s ahead of the 2020 Olympics. She was previously a Deaflympics GB Sprinter and winner of Young Deaf Sports Personality 2018.

After undergoing reconstructive surgery last year, my ambition is to fight for a place in the upcoming South Africa Tour in May 2020. I would like to win my first full international cap and am excited to what the season ahead will bring.

Finding England Deaf Rugby has been one of the best things that has happened to me. I’ve worn the rose and made some wonderful friends along the way and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.

Beth’s advice for managing your hearing loss as a sportsperson:

  • Avoid damaging your hearing aid during training

    Hearing aids are expensive devices and rugby is a contact sport. The sport inherently involves mud, water and physical contact, which raises the possibility of damaging the hearing aid device. I personally avoid this risk by keeping my hearing aids secure in a locker with the battery door open as it makes the batteries last longer. Whereas, some players choose wear their device during training, protected by a padded scrum cap – it’s personal preference.

  • Read up on the rules of your sport

    When it comes to international deaf rugby, it is against the rules to wear hearing aids during the match. I manage by lip reading, non-verbal communication and asking coaches to repeat calls I miss.
    It is important you understand the rules for wearing hearing aids when it comes to your sport, these are put in place to protect you and your teammates.

  • Find the device that’s right for you

    It’s important to find the device that is right for you. This could take some time but trust me, it’s worth it. I use a powerful Oticon OPN hearing aid device that is perfect for my lifestyle. It allows me to stream my music when I am in the gym, and feels comfortable.

  • Be prepared

    If, like me, you use a demanding hearing aid device, it is important you are prepared. Always keep spare hearing aid batteries with you in case they run out unexpectedly. Use a brand which delivers the longest lasting performance and familiarise yourself with how to make the most of your hearing aid batteries.

  • Rest

    Finally, take some time out for yourself. Many forget that hearing loss alone can be very tiring. A significant amount of your energy is taken up with communicating with others and processing information – this is often referred to as listener’s fatigue. Coupled with a training regime, it can be exhausting. It is important to take time out your day to relax.

Any opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and not Energizer

Angie Aspinall on 8 years of sudden profound hearing loss

April 2019 marked 8 years since Founder of #HearingLossHour, Angie Aspinall developed a profound sudden hearing loss in her ‘good’ ear. The word ‘anniversary’ usually conjures up thoughts of a celebration, but how do you mark the anniversary of discovering you have hearing loss?

While she won’t be celebrating this particular anniversary, she feels she can’t ignore it. So, Angie decided to look back and reflect on the past 8 years and share of her experiences, tips and what she’s learnt:

You’re not alone

When I experienced Sudden Onset Hearing Loss (as the doctors call it), I’d never heard of the condition before and I mistook what was happening for a brain haemorrhage. I lost my hearing over a three-hour period and my head felt like it was going to explode. It was painful and terrifying. I was sent home from the emergency department with a diagnosis of having an ear infection. I thought I must be the only person in the world that this had happened to.

But sudden deafness is not as rare as you’d think. Since my experience, I’ve come into contact with many other people who have had the same type of sudden, dramatic hearing loss. Some have had successful treatment and regained some of their hearing, and others (like me), were not offered any treatment and have had to come to terms with the loss. (There is a small window of opportunity for steroid treatment following sudden hearing loss, so it is essential to seek treatment immediately.)

One thing’s for sure, having hearing loss can make you feel lonely, but there’s no need to feel alone; there are lots of online groups full of people willing to give support and friendship. There are groups for people with single-sided deafness, profound deafness, cochlear implant users, young people… the list goes on. Why not get online and give them a try?

You find out who your real friends are

When something serious happens to you, you really find out who your friends are. Whether it’s losing your hearing, your sight, or your mobility, some friends just can’t deal with you being different and not being able to do what you used to do. This is not your fault!

While it’s heart-breaking and hurtful at the time, hopefully, you will have other people around you who will come into their own and surprise you. The people who stick with you through the toughest times: they are your true friends. And, the new people you meet can also turn out to be real gems. Treasure them.

You don’t need to suffer in silence

Easier said than done, I know – especially if you are having to come to terms with a hidden disability pretty much overnight. But when you start to come to terms with your hearing loss, you’ll find that the easiest way to get people to help you is to ask them for help.

If you can learn how to talk about your hearing loss without feeling embarrassed, it will help you to be able to reach out to others and get more support.

Joining a lipreading class helped me to learn how to feel comfortable telling others about my hearing loss and how to articulate how they could help meet my communication needs. In the UK, you can find a lipreading class near you on the ATLA website.   

You might need to find new hobbies

In the same way that old friends may fall by the wayside, you might find that some of the activities you used to enjoy just aren’t as much fun with hearing loss.

You may need to grieve and mourn this loss. (Again, this is where the online groups can provide so much support as people who have no experience of hearing loss might not be able to understand.) In time, you may find that new hobbies and pastimes start to give you as much enjoyment as your previous ones.

I used to enjoy going to live music gigs , but now (with or without my hearing aids) the noise is anathema to me. Now, I get pleasure from watching the birds in my garden. It’s a totally different pastime, but the enjoyment is not reliant on the ability to hear and I enjoy the peacefulness which accompanies it. Or maybe I’m just getting old!

Planning ahead

Another aspect of your life which changes when you get hearing aids is the need to plan ahead. You can’t just dash out on a whim; trips take a little bit of forward-planning. Yep! I’m talking about hearing aid batteries – and the need to carry spares.

The first person with hearing loss I became friends with told me that she had a pack of batteries in every one of her handbags. At the time, I thought she was being a bit paranoid, but it only takes your batteries  dying in the middle of an important meeting once to ensure that never forget your spares again.

Thankfully, I now have a RAYOVAC® battery caddy on my keyring so I can’t go anywhere without my spares. It gives me one less thing to worry about – and that can only be a good thing, right?

How about you?

There are so many other things I’ve learnt about living with hearing loss over the past 8 years, but what about you? What has your hearing loss taught you? Tweet us @HearWithRayovac.

Rayovac supports World Hearing Day 2019 with hearing protection education for children

Rayovac®, a world-leading hearing aid battery manufacturer* and division of Energizer Holdings, Inc. is helping to raise awareness of hearing loss by releasing a video of a fun, educational hearing protection workshop, held with children, this World Hearing Day.

By teaching children about noise-induced hearing loss in an easy to understand and entertaining way, Rayovac® aims to ensure they can hear more, for longer, by being aware of preventable causes of hearing loss.

The video was produced at a Rayovac® manufacturing facility in Washington, UK, where a lesson on hearing loss awareness and prevention was carried out with a group of local children, led by Harrogate based audiologist Emily Balmer.

Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at Rayovac® said: “World Hearing Day is held on the 3rd March each year. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of how to prevent hearing loss and deafness around the world. This year’s theme focuses on early identification and intervention for hearing loss.

“There are some simple things we can all do to help stop loud noises from permanently damaging our hearing, no matter our age. This is the message we would like people take away with them this World Hearing Day.”

A group of children donned high-visibility jackets for a tour of a Rayovac® manufacturing facility before taking part in a variety of hands-on, hearing protection-themed activities. Using coloured pipe cleaners to represent the fragile hair cells in the ear undergoing damage from loud noise and playing a verbal ‘pass the message’ game while wearing ear defenders, not only raised smiles and laughter but provided the children with a range of information about noise-induced hearing loss, its impact and how to prevent it.

The children were also given some deaf awareness training and learning techniques to help them communicate better with people with a hearing disorder, such as speaking clearly and looking directly at someone when talking.

Emily Balmer is an audiologist from The Hearing Suite. Speaking about why loud sounds are harmful to our hearing, she said: “As audiologists we see cases of preventable hearing loss on a regular basis. With more and more children using headphones and earbuds for extended periods of gaming, listening to music and watching videos online, we need to teach our children about the risks around noise-induced hearing loss and how to prevent it.”

“The children left Rayovac® with a better understanding of where and why hearing damage from loud noises can occur, and knowing how to protect their hearing in these situations.”

As part of the commitment to teaching people and in particular children to protect their hearing from damage caused by loud noise, staff at the Rayovac® Washington plant will be raising money for the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss. The company will match funds raised in a plant-wide cake sale and other activities throughout the year to go towards the charity’s work ensuring that thousands of children who are deaf or have hearing loss can access the early identification, hearing technology, and locally-based expertise they would otherwise not have, in order for them to reach their full potential.

To view the video of the lesson, find out more about how to protect your hearing, and how to get involved in World Hearing Day, visit protect.rayovac.eu, like Rayovac® on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HearwithRayovac or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HearwithRayovac.

*Based on internal company estimates of worldwide market share.

Headphones and hearing damage: teaching my child to protect their ears

These days, children as young as three are listening to music, watching videos, TV and playing games on portable devices using headphones. According to Ofcom, 83% of 12 to 15 year olds have their own smartphone. More than two-thirds play games online with 77% spending more than 12 hours gaming each week. On top of this almost all 12 to 15 year olds spend up to 21 hours a week online, with the most popular content being music and videos.

As a parent you will know that this will often be done using headphones or earbuds. You may be unaware of the dangers of hearing damage that can result from unsafe listening, or you might be looking for ways to safeguard your child’s hearing, while still ensuring they can continue do the things they enjoy into adulthood.

Safe listening is about more than just volume; it is about duration and the way in which we listen to music, stories, video and games. Reducing the damage caused by regular loud noise for long periods of time by protecting their hearing is something that children need to be taught.

So why worry about headphones?

Portable devices are improving all the time. With a tap of a finger we can access video, gaming and music entertainment wherever we are. For many, and indeed our children, it is one of the biggest joys of modern living and takes up a considerable proportion of their time.

Inner ear damage is permanent. Noise-induced hearing loss can take a while to progress and by the time it is noticed it may be too late to reverse.

Earbuds in particular can cause more damage than traditional retro-style headphones; this is because having the device in the ear increases the sound’s volume by around six to nine decibels. The louder the volume, the more quickly hearing damage can occur. If you consider how sound is measured, you can see for example that 70 decibels is twice as loud as 60 decibels (roughly the level of the human voice) you can see why this is an issue.

Teaching your child to identify early warnings of hearing damage

Prevention is key when we talk about noise-induced hearing damage. There are however some common signs of hearing damage that children can learn to look out for:

  • Ringing or buzzing in their ears after loud sounds
  • The experience that sounds are somehow muffled or a ‘full’ feeling in the ears
  • Not being able to easily hear someone talking just a few feet away

Read more about signs of hearing loss in children and babies from the NHS.

Ask your child about changes in their hearing. If they report any of the symptoms above this may be a warning sign that you need to get it professionally tested. You can read more about hearing testing here.

Some of the ways children can learn to prevent damage from headphones

Things you can teach your children and teenagers about using headphones include:

  • Noise-induced hearing damage is on the increase in the UK and is completely avoidable
  • The 60%/60 minute rule is a useful way to ensure you are listening safely with headphones. This approach means you never listen to anything with the sound at more than 60% of the maximum volume and you limit your listening time to 60 minute periods.
  • A great rule of thumb in determining if your volume is too loud is whether other people can hear what you are listening to when you are wearing your headphones. If they can, turn it down until they can no longer hear it.
  • Headphones are better than earbuds. There are a wide range of styles available to suit every taste. Bear in mind that although they are better, the same rules apply.

Teaching our children to take care of themselves is a major part of the parenting we do. From basic life-skills like hygiene and eating healthily, to social norms including manners and behaviour, they’re learning all the time. Protecting their hearing by using portable devices and headphones safely is another skill children and teenagers can use for the rest of their lives.

Read more about protecting your hearing