auditory challenge, Hard of hearing, Hyperacusis, Tinnitus

“Marga hears too much!”

Hyperacusis, hypersensitivity to noise, is less well known than tinnitus, but there are many people who suffer more or less severely from it.
In this section “Marga hears too much” Marga van Hintumwill blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.

Hearing aids as noise masks

I am limited in my hearing, yes, but I am not hard of hearing, on the contrary. But I do have hearing aids, in plural. Very small, and because of their shape I call them “my hearts”. That makes you suspect that I am happy with “my hearts”. Especially in the beginning I was very happy with it. I quickly got used to their presence. But with the accompanying advice that I had to learn to take them out again, I was not happy with that. Desensitising; it sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, the reality was different.
My hearing aids were advised me to mask the tinnitus. So that I could distract my attention from it. That went very well during the day. At night it was not a success. Try to lie down on your side, on an ear, with a hearing aid. At night the radio and appjes offered a happy outcome.

So I didn’t get the hearing aids, because of a reduced hearing. Only a small dip around 4000 hrz has been diagnosed. That dip can be caused by my age, 60. And the numerous middle ear infections in my youth, which will have destroyed a large number of hair cells in my inner ear.

Shank balance
Hearing aids as tinnitus masks. They give a constant so-called “white noise”. That noise is tuned to my hearing dip. But I also had and have hyperacusis*.
If I set the noise masks very hard, they indeed mask part of the tinnitus. But then the sound of the noise masks itself causes enormous pain in my head again. And if I turn them less loudly, they don’t mask the tinnitus sufficiently. It was an unstable balance. And it still is.

My sweethearts
Because of a therapy I have followed, my tinnitus is now clearly less annoying. It’s still there,  still plays firmly every now and then. But all in all the tinnitus is doing pretty well. The withdrawal of the noise masks is now also going well. I still wear the hearing aids very little.
But completely without “my hearts”? No, that is still a bridge too far. They are too dear to me for that ! My hearts, or rather, my sweethearts …


* Hyperacusis, literally “I hear too much”, is a condition in which you are hypersensitive to ordinary everyday sounds. “The volume control of ambient noise is permanently set to too high a level for a person with hyperacusis.”For me, the higher frequencies are particularly annoying and hurt my head.

Hyperacusis occurs in many forms. And often also in combination with tinnitus; as is the case with me.



CI, Hard of hearing

„Remco’s journey: from hearing aid to CI“

Remco is hearing impaired, wears hearing aids and is a social worker in daily life. Recently, he is discussing a CI (Cochlear Implant). In this section, Remco writes about his process from hearing aid wearer to CI wearer.

Operation successful, the patient is deaf …
The day I knew that would come, Monday 17 September knocked hard on my door. On that day my operation for a CI was performed at the UMC in Utrecht (Netherlands). The day started early because I had to be in Utrecht at 09:00 hours so we decided to leave early. Despite our precautions we did not manage to get through traffic jams on the way to arrive on time.

Fortunately it didn’t matter much now. The preparations started with answering a number of questions, which I had already sent digitally before. When this was over, I got the most charming hospital outfit of this decade. If you had been there, you would hardly believe how it was like for me. Anyway, after that it was the way to the recovery room, where I underwent some tests and got questions again. Then a start was made with the infusion, the infusion with which I would be down for the duration of the operation. I was asked if this could be done by a co-assistent  (I was assured that he could do this, although he had not done it often yet) and for me this was not a problem. What was a problem, finding a suitable vein to insert the infusion. No matter how they pulled and knocked, my veins had disappeared under the radar. At first a vein was found but it was not possible to insert the infusion in it. After a while a second attempt succeeded.

The doctors came to exchange some last details and shortly after that I went down. It all seemed surrealistic, a futuristic environment with operating rooms in a kind of vault. I jumped on the operating table and got a mask on. I looked upstairs and suddenly it became blurred and green in front of my eyes and I was sunk into a deep sleep. About three hours later I woke up at the recovery and got an ice cream for my sore throat. It felt like there had been a steamroller crushing for hours. Gradually I became more and more awake and soon I got to talk again. In this case, I talked for two. I was impatient too and I wanted to see my sweetheart. She had been waiting all this time. And waiting is not really her thing. Eventually the redeeming phone call was made to the ward and I could be picked up.

And there I went, on my way to the ward. My sweetheart was picked up and when she entered the ward, she was radiant as always. I got a sandwich with coffee and then I asked for the same again. The doctor came by to say that the operation had been successful and that as far as he was concerned, I could go home. The last details had to be filled in and then I got the green light from the department to go home. At home I worked quietly on my recovery and let the wound heal. Luckily I had no noteworthy side effects and especially took some rest.
Now the stitches went out last Thursday and last Saturday, after more than two weeks, I could finally wash my hair again. A nice feeling.

On October 12th the CI is connected and rehabilitation starts in the form of adjustments and speech therapy. Until that time it will be: the operation is successful but the patient is deaf …

auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

“Job: searched and found …”

In this new section I will regularly write about the topic “work” myself, or invite guest bloggers. The aim of this section is to approach “work and hearing impairment” in an open and versatile way, to show the bottlenecks and positive sides.

In my blog I sometimes use to write about people with hearing impairment and their challenges in finding a job or at work.
There are people with a hearing impairment who see no or few challenges in finding a job or in the workplace.
There are people with a hearing impairment who feel somewhat challenged about “work” and people who feel particularly challenged.
Of course, the first question that arises is: what makes the difference? Why do some people manage to easily find and/or keep a job? Why do some manage it with difficulty and some hardly or not at all? Of course, this question cannot be answered unequivocally, because it is usually not only the auditory challenge that plays a role.

About the many reasons why it is often more difficult for people with an auditory challenge to find a job is already much written and also I have already written about it They are all good reasons not to deny and not to underestimate.
Today, however, I would like to shed light on a reason that you almost never get to read, but that is still more important.
And this reason is called: How does one stand to its hearing impairment, how independent and self-confident is the hearing-impaired job seeker or employee?

In the 15 years that I have been active professionally and otherwise in the world of hearing-impaired people, one thing has become particularly clear to me from the beginning: the more self-conscious the hearing-impaired person is, the further he or she will go in private and working life.
If you are self-conscious about your hearing impairment, this is not a guarantee that you will not face challenges, but self-confidence is a good prerequisite to achieve a goal, for example, acquiring a job.
If one is “self-conscious”, one knows better one’s own strength and weakness, one can orient oneself also better on a suitable job or training and, just as importantly, one can present oneself in the application process as well.

Employers like to see employees or job candidates who know what they need, know what they want and why they want to work exactly in this job or at this company. For employers, the main thing is that they hire the right person for the right job, matching their company. And if the candidate, hearing impaired or not, cannot convey the message that he or she is this person, he or she will hardly stand a chance.
And that’s where the shoe usually pinches for a hearing impaired person! A hearing impairement often brings with it uncertainty, which can impair self-confidence. Uncertainty about one’s own talents, whether one can do a job or not dare to emphasize one’s own strength in the application process.

If  you think about how one could bring potential employers and hearing-impaired job seekers closer together, above all the self-consciousnes should stand in the foreground.
Employers should look more at what an applicant can do, rather than focusing on what an applicant can’t do.
Hearing impaired applicants should also become more aware of what skills they do have instead of what they cannot. And if they find it difficult to find out for themselves, they might ask for some help with that.

Hard of hearing



Have you always wanted to write a blog about your daily experiences as an ENT doctor, combined with current news about throat, nose and ears?
For my website “I am hard of hearing, so what ” I am looking for the input of an ENT specialist for a new section “ENT news”. It will be about 4 blog posts per year. Besides publication in English, the contributions will also be translated and published in German and Dutch. The contributions will not only be distributed in these three languages via the websites but also via Facebook, various Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Xing and BeBee.

Are you interested or do you know someone who may be interested, then I would like to invite you to take a look at the website and you can contact me via a LinkedIn message or via the website. Thank you very much for sharing this message.

Hard of hearing

Challenge: road traffic


In road traffic, everyone makes their own experiences wherever they go. It poses special challenges for people with hearing impairments – whether as pedestrians, cyclists or motorists: especially now in the upcoming darker seasons, when hearing loss can be less easily compensated through the eyes. Her personal experiences are described here by Renee Iseli, a blogger with severe hearing loss – Smits

Grüezi Dear Readers! Recently I have been driving a car again after years without driving. The public transport system here in Switzerland is so good that I haven’t driven a car or hardly ever since I moved here. Considering the effort to get my driver’s license, I think that’s a pity. I have only had my driver’s license for about 15 years. I managed the theory directly, but in practice it was a different story. I had some difficulty to understand my driving instructor for instance, because the reading of his lips is not particularly recommended during driving. Therefore I am still very proud of my driving licence.

Sometimes I am also asked whether hearing-impaired people can drive a car at all and whether it is safe. Yes, we can and it is safe! What we don’t hear, we compensate visually. So it has happened to me before that I heard a siren only after I had seen the blue lights in the rear-view mirror.

And how many good hearing people are there who turn up the music loudly in the car? They don’t hear anything except their music and they aren’t trained in visual compensation either.

The road traffic in general, however, has its challenges in store for hearing-impaired people. When I was riding my bicycle in Amsterdam, I often received head shakes or angry looks because I apparently hadn’t heard the bel ringing.

In Germany and here in Switzerland I had to get used to the fact that the sidewalk is usually shared by both pedestrians and cyclists. I still get heart palpitations because as a pedestrian I don’t hear the cyclists coming from behind and it scares me when suddenly a bike passes me close by.

I therefore often look around me on the road. Unless I am distracted or on the road with others. Then I have to concentrate on the conversation in such a way that my conversation partners occasionally have to draw my attention to the fact that someone wants to pass me by.

There are special small signs that can be stuck on the bike or jacket to indicate that you are hearing impaired. For some people this can be a fine solution. Personally, I feel more comfortable only sharing my hearing impairment with people when I want to. In addition, it is questionable whether people recognize and correctly interpret the sign as they drive past.

Finally, a tip for all hearing-impaired drivers: make sure that you always have a starting-cable ready in the car if you don’t hear the warning signal for the car lighting when leaving the car and forget to check it yourself …

Best regards,
Your Renee Iseli-Smits


























auditory challenge, Hard of hearing, Hyperacusis, Tinnitus

“Marga hears too much!”

Hyperacusis, hypersensitivity to noise, is less well known than tinnitus, but there are many people who suffer more or less severely from it.
In this new section “Marga hears too much” you get to know Marga van Hintum. She will blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.

An over-stimulated brain pan

I have written before, that tinnitus and hyperacusis* both have to do with information, which is misinterpreted in the brain. It is not the ear that is responsible, but the brain pan. Which sometimes looks like a pressure cooker; with a little too much pressure. May it please be a bit less?

The ear and balance
To inform you a little more, I have gathered some things together, about over-stimulation.
The ear resembles the organ of balance in some ways. If you hear something wrong, the ear automatically tries to correct it. If you hear too little, it unconsciously compensates. The tinnitus and/or hyperacusis ear sends the wrong information to the brain. The brain, but also other parts of the body that play a role in the balance, are continuously correcting and compensating. This continuously over-stimulates the brain, but also the ears, eyes and the balance system. And therefore overloaded and overtired.

Poor sleep
Many people with balance problems don’t sleep well, although they need more sleep and recovery time. Many people with an auditory challenge will recognize this. Also people with tinnitus and/or hyperacusis often sleep less well. I personally am often very tired in the evening and usually sleep in. But then I wake up in the middle of the night and then often lie awake for a long time.
Correcting, compensating, over-stimulating, overloading, fatigue, too few good sleeping hours, and therefore again extra fatigue. A sliding surface. Will it ever work out again?

A stimulation-free period desired
The over-stimulation of the brain causes fatigue, among other things. But because of the fatigue there is also a reduced concentration, a poorer memory, less good coordination, more difficult to formulate words, less good multitasking and because of all this also a greater sensitivity to stimuli. The circle is round.

Because the brain is already over-stimulated and overloaded, it has more difficulty with cognitive and coordination functions. Extra stimuli cannot then be processed properly.
If it is not going well at all for a period of time, if you are extremely tired, then there may be a solution. By then temporarily inserting a stimulation-free period, you allow your brain, eyes, ears and balance to rest as well in order to recover and ‘reset’.

Prevention is better than cure
Incentives that can act as a trigger include strong sound, light, and strong moving and hectic images. For example, a busy environment such as a shop or a train station. But also the computer and smartphone.
Intensive activities can also act as a trigger, often accompanied by another portion of stress, larded with the necessary caffeine. This of course differs per person and everyone will have to find out for themselves what triggers her or him.

Just take a moment to step back. Fewer stimuli, or a little shorter. Temporary. In unstable periods or periods of extreme fatigue. When the weather is calm, you should not avoid stimuli. But the stimuli allow you to keep training your brain. If you would continue to avoid them, you would be able to tolerate fewer and fewer stimuli. And you don’t want to want that !

* Hyperacusis, literally “I hear too much”, is a condition in which you are hypersensitive to ordinary everyday sounds. “The volume control of ambient noise is permanently set to too high a level for a person with hyperacusis.”For me, the higher frequencies are particularly annoying and hurt my head.

Hyperacusis occurs in many forms. And often also in combination with tinnitus; as is the case with me.


auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

Hearing aid maintenance


This morning I was «my» home for elderly people to clean the hearing aids and change the tubes or filters for residents who needed this. It was a first attempt on my part to support residents and staff with hearing aids and it is my intention to do this once a month.
I am not an acoustician, but I am pretty familiar with the care/cleaning of hearing aids. I clean my hearing aids myself every day before they go into the dry box and have them cleaned regularly by an acoustician. But in an home for eldery people, hearing aids are an extra effort for both residents and staff. That’s why I came up with the idea for these visits. Furthermore, if there were any problems with the hearing aids, I would have a direct line to an acoustician, could get advice or possibly accompany the residents to the acoustician.

There were 3 residents to visit today for the hearing aid cleaning – I visit the residents in the room, this is easier and more private – although actually 5 residents were foreseen, but unfortunately 2 residents had recently died.
I took time for each resident and everything went well. But I had to realize that it is a bit more difficult to put the hearing aid on again for other people, especially if they are lying in bed. Also, next time I won’t clean both earpieces at the same time, but one after another.
Firstly, this has the advantage that people still can hear me a little with one ear , secondly I cannot confuse the left earpiece with the right (and vice versa) … In practice you learn!

Carefully I had taken everything necessary with me, from cleaning tablets to tissues and extra tube, but except tissues the residents had everything already there themselves.
In advance I had visited my acoustician and asked if he would be willing to provide some tubes and filters and, kindly, that was no problem.
Residents and staff were happy about my visit and one of the visited residents I still knew from my previous visits to the home for elderly people. Although she didn’t recognize me anymore, I found it nice to see her again. After all, the visits have a social aspect as well as a useful one.

After a good hour and a half I was finished and said goodbye again. In one month I plan to visit the home for elderly peopel again and hopefully everything will go as today, or even better.