auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

Aid in the ear


Who still knows the cute and beautiful plush animals with the well-known slogan “button in the ear”?
Already as a young girl I felt a great love for these cuddly toys. Through the button in my ear slogan, I knew that they were real and that made my love even bigger. Unfortunately also much more expensive and so far I have only looked at this love in the shops.

Recently this slogan, button in the ear, came to me again, when a discussion began around the hearing aid advertisement. In my last article, Disclaimer, I already reported about it.

The slogan “button in the ear” is already very old, but even today many people still associate the slogan immediately with the brand (which I don’t mention here to do without advertising).
In terms of advertising, they already did a good thing back then.
Even today there are certain advertisements from the past that I still remember. But of the current advertisements only very rarely one remains in my memory: they are mostly too fast, too vague, too noisy and too complicated.

But outstanding and specific advertising, which I think is called earwurms in music, could make a difference for hearing aids. A German chain of acousticians has, consciously or unconsciously, played with the button in the ear slogan and is successful with it, but here too, age plays a role in this advertisement.
All that is needed is a gripping, powerful slogan that could ensure that hearing aids come out of the taboo sphere, are no longer seen as old-fashioned, but as something independent of age, something modern and practical, which one not only needs but also likes to wear and which corresponds to the constantly advancing technology.

In particular, the threshold should be lowered for people with hearing loss who are taking the step of going to a hearing care professional for the first time.
I still remember my first visit very well, about 35 years ago. I stopped in front of the shop window and hesitated to enter the shop, as if my hearing loss had been finally confirmed by my entry and the fitting of a hearing aid and there was no way back for me afterwards. Which was true, of course, but it was even harder by then than it is now.
In the meantime much has improved, but the decision whether to buy a first hearing aid or not (yet) still has to be made by many people today. Unfortunately, this decision is often pushed too far ahead until postponement is really no longer possible.

That is why it is so important that the advertising of hearing aids and acousticians is not too promising, but realistic, so that one is not disappointed with the first hearing aid, if one still thinks that “with hearing aid the world opens up again” .
The advertising should also make it clear that hearing impairment is independent of age and that the (first) hearing aid should be accepted in the same way as the (first) pair of glasses. Only then can the target group of the first hearing aid users be reached and their decision for a hearing aid made earlier.

In my opinion, all hearing aid advertising has primarily this social responsibility to contribute to more acceptance, less taboos and stigmatisation. Only then will the sale come, because with more acceptance, more people will decide (earlier) for a hearing aid and the sales will increase anyway.


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 Hintum blogs about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.


Coffee with noise
Coffee, yeah! I can really enjoy it. I am a genuine coffee drinker. In moderation, admittedly. In the morning 2 small cups. In the evening too. Actually, it should be better not to drink so much coffee in the evening, but I do sleep well. And well, it’s so good…

Coffee history
In the beginning there was the kettle on the gas stove. It was a matter of boiling water in the kettle. Coffee beans were being grinded; oh, how nice that smelled! And then soak it up with a filter on a coffee pot. Just like at my mother’s home. Although at some point with a thermos, the coffee stayed nice and warm.

Then came a coffee maker with a filter. An ultramodern machine. From now on everything was automatic. When it was extruded, it roared a bit. Coffee ready!

We skip a few years in the history of coffee. At a certain moment the pad machine came into use. I didn’t follow the advertisements straight away. But there was eventually one in the kitchen to come. Nice and handy. Every cup was freshly put. Handy especially, because I was the only coffee drinker in the house.

Also here everything went automatically. I didn’t even have to do the quick filter grind in the filter anymore! And I didn’t have to shake the remaining coffee in a thermos anymore too. Because the second cup was freshly brewed again.

I sound like an advertising agency…

Hellish machine
My workstations had very different coffee machines. One was rather disgusting, because the coffee was made from a kind of syrup, diluted with hot water. Yuck! But another one was delicious, with freshly ground beans. I was spoiled there!

And then I came home for good. I stopped working. I missed the work. And I missed the good coffee. After a long period of dubbing, a few years ago, I made the decision. With the help of the internet, I had found one. That was the One. I had found the least noisy fully automatic espresso machine of its kind; and that was it. There was a hellish machine in the kitchen; a real fully automatic one. From a solid brand. An entry-level model, admittedly, but that shouldn’t spoil the coffee fun. I enjoyed every cup of espresso. That smell of facilitating coffee; a downright perfume!

But oh, what an uproar that machine made during the grinding. And to think, my machine was the least noisy! That was the only disadvantage, really. Cleaning and descaling, that was never the problem. I did that well and regularly. But during the grinding, the fingers had to be in my ears! I couldn’t get used to the noise of the grinder. For a person with healthy ears that was already a lot of noise, let alone a hyperacusist*. But then came the reward: a delicious cup of coffee! Mmmmmmm…

Without machine
And then fate struck. Machine broken. The end of the fun. It suddenly stopped. How could that be? I had always taken good care of and cherished the machine. What to do now? I made some attempts to get it working again, using the internet of course. It was to no avail.

But I still had paper filters somewhere, luckily. And there was a bean grinder with pendulum as an ornament on the closet. It was well dusted and immediately put into use.

For the time being I put the kettle on in the morning and evening. Without whistle ! And now I grind the beans myself. By hand. With the bean grinder with pendulum. It makes much less noise, I must say. And it is a mindfull moment, twice a day. A moment of meditation. Sit with the bean grinder between the knees. And turn it around. Also a great work out.

And then there is the enjoyment of a fresh cup of coffee, delicious coffee. Mmmmmm … !

* Hyperacusis, literally “I hear too much”, is a condition where you are hypersensitive to ordinary everyday sounds. Everything sounds too loud. “The volume knob of ambient sounds stands for someone with hyperacusis permanently at too high a setting” (source: foundation Hoormij)
Hyperacusis occurs in many forms. For me, especially higher frequencies are very annoying and hurt my head. I also have tinnitus. Concentration is more difficult and focusing on a sound source is more difficult.

auditory challenge, Hard of hearing



Recently, in the Netherlands, a chain of hearing aid acousticians has let themselves be talked about with an advertisement, unfortunately in a negative way. The video and the accompanying pictures show an elderly lady in front of an acoustics store, and the same lady leaving the store as a teenager.
According to acoustic chains, they want to reach the target group of elderly hearing impaired people who often wait too long with a hearing aid. But this shot goes all the way to the back.
First, you don’t get 50 years younger and slimmer with a hearing aid, otherwise I myself would have been beautiful and slim for about 35 years. Secondly, hearing impairment has no age limits.

Such an advertisement once again reinforces all clichés, taboos and stigmatizations about hearing impairment and hearing aids in one. I wonder why this has to be so.
Of course I understand the attempt to reach a certain target group, but this target group (or others) could also be approached quite differently. For example, I have in mind a slogan like “Our hearing aids are too good to hide”, or “We love hearing aids that can be shown”, or “Hearing aids don’t care about age, but about functionality“.

As I have written before (in the article “Showing your colours”), most hearing aid advertisements send a completely wrong signal that the prejudices of people with good hearing (hearing impaired people are old and you have to be ashamed of a hearing impairment or wearing hearing aids) are only confirmed and destroy all attempts at inclusion.

Why don’t acousticians and hearing aid manufacturers invest in advertising that is more realistic and still allows them to present their hearing aids well?
No, dear acousticians and hearing aid manufacturers, with a hearing aid “the world doesn’t open up” and you can’t take part in table discussions again in comfort. With a hearing aid you can at best understand a little better again, but once you are a hearing impaired person you may become a somewhat better hearing person wearing a hearing aid, but you will never be a good hearing person.

Actually, advertising for hearing aids or acoustics needs a disclaimer, just like advertising for medication. In the same way as “Our hearing aids are aids and not miracle cures. If in doubt, ask your ENT doctor or acoustician”.

Such a disclaimer would not only be fair, but would bring reality much closer. Unfortunately, I do not see any change in advertising in the near future, so I am considering whether it would be worthwhile to launch a campaign that should include a disclaimer in hearing aid advertising.
What do you think, dear readers? I am happy to receive your feedback.

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 Hintum will blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.

20190319_083851.jpgSpring in the vegetable garden
They laugh at me, those little tiny mini plants. From lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, paprika and pods. They laugh at me. They are shinning hugely there, on the windowsill. Outside it is still far too cold for my little ones. Too cold and too windy these days. They would blow away like that. Too bad, right?
For now they are warm, dry and as sunny as possible. I look after them every day, they can’t grow fast enough for me. I address them lovingly. And every now and then they get some water. Lukewarm water, because I don’t want to scare those little ones! They look satisfied. And so it should be.
When the weather is better, and especially important, when it doesn’t freeze anymore, the little ones can go outside. Playing outside. Going into puberty. It’s nice to grow much bigger. And bear fruit. So that we can enjoy them as we nibble! A little cruel thought it is. But well, they have had a good life, very good. Much better and much more loving is hardly possible.

Learning by doing
A house with a garden. I’ve never felt like it before. Never had the time too. I have always lived in an apartment. But a few years ago we were looking for a bigger house. And coincidentally this house had a large ornamental garden, at least for metropolitan concepts. Until then I had never done some gardening. And had neither green genes nor green fingers. But from one day to the next I had to prune, dig, plant and weed. The house was beautiful, we liked it very much. That garden, we took it by the way. Part of the deal.
Something went dead the first few years, unfortunately. But by doing one learns. And then the vegetable garden came back into fashion! We started with a modest corner with some lettuce, rocket and chives. It tasted like more. And so over the years the vegetable garden secretly gained a little more ground every year. And by doing I learned.
There were tomatoes, oh so delicious. And pods, also so delicious, when it comes fresh from their own soil! I got more and more fun in the gardening. The sweet peppers and paprikas turned out to do great in a hot summer. The cucumber plant, given free of charge by Albert Heijn’s (dutch Supermarket – RI) vegetable garden campaign, also benefited enormously from the heat last year.

On Sunday morning
Since I have hyperacusis*, I garden a lot indoors. It seems like a contradiction, but it is possible, inside. And outside, I can do that especially on Sunday morning. I wrote about it before. During the week it is far too noisy for us. Especially from city traffic. All day long, unfortunately. But on Sunday morning, then it is quiet. And then I hope, that the birds also sleep in. And as long as the birds relax elsewhere, I can do it in our vegetable garden.
In early spring I already started making a plan. What am I going to sow, when and where will it be. Because a crop can not always be in the same place; then it does not grow well. And then, from February, the Great Sowing begins. Indoors, on the window sill.
And there they are now, nice and warm. I cherish them, the babies. I give them a good portion of love, my little plants. And I secretly look forward to the harvest. Tasty!

* Hyperacusis, literally “I hear too much”, is a condition where you are hypersensitive to ordinary everyday sounds. Everything sounds too loud. “The volume knob of ambient sounds stands for someone with hyperacusis permanently at too high a setting” (source: foundation Hoormij)
Hyperacusis occurs in many forms. For me, especially higher frequencies are very annoying and hurt my head. I also have tinnitus. Concentration is more difficult and focusing on a sound source is more difficult.


auditory challenge, Hard of hearing



Dear readers, as you may probably already have noticed, I was “off line” for a few weeks. The reason for this was a visit to the hospital and subsequent rest.

For about six years ago, I have been diagnosed with arthrosis in the hips. Last year, the pain in the left hip became more severe. During a visit to the hip surgeon earlier this year, it became clear that the left hip was broken, and a new hip became necessary. Since I wanted to get this behind me as soon as possible, the corresponding operation was scheduled for the end of February.

Of course I prepared everything as well as possible in advance and also thought about how I could best approach the operation and hospital stay as a hearing impaired person and hearing aid user.

During the preliminary examination I clearly mentioned that I wanted to wear my hearing aids until the last moment, and that I definitely needed them again when I woke up. A tip from a good friend of mine I put into practice and worked wonderfully. I had a small box with my name and date of birth on it, in which the hearing aids could be stored, during the operation and overnight.

As hoped, the hearing aids were taken off when the anaesthetic was applied and I had the hearing aids in my ears again when I woke up. The first night after the surgery I had a lot of pain and I was sick a lot, so I kept my hearing aids on at night so I could communicate more easily if I needed help. Then I took off my hearing aids at night and put them back on when I needed them. And I have to say: there were no communication problems at all! Only because of the anaesthesia I was a little less concentrated at the beginning, and I had to try a little harder to listen, but to my great joy everything worked out wonderfully! No one in hospital made a problem of my hearing impairment at all  and also all other praise for the hospital and its wonderful care!

Tomorrow the operation has been exactly 3 weeks ago and if I can analyse it now, then I am extremely satisfied! My recovery is very good and fast: on the 4th day after the operation I was already allowed to go home and today I can walk quite well in the apartment without crutches and outside with crutches I can go further and better on daily basis.

Also my worries that the anaesthesia could have an effect on my already bad hearing, fortunately did not come true. And since I didn’t need antibiotics either, which could also have a harmful effect on my hearing, my hearing has not deteriorated to my great relief.

Next week I start with physiotherapy and in about 2 months I hope to be able to move again painlessly and well!

Until then I will report again regularly, although a little less than accustomed, because I am not allowed to sit with my legs on a chair for so long.

auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

Decision made


For those readers who may be wondering how the testing of the new hearing aids is progressing, I have good news today: the decision has been made!

Since, after intensive testing at the beginning of January, it was still not quite clear to me which of the two tested hearing aids was really the best for me, I decided to test a third hearing aid. Same brand and also the same series, but in functionality somewhere between the two other hearing aids.
I was able to test this new hearing aids immediately, when my husband and I had a drink and something to eat with a few friends in the pub, I actually had trouble understanding the conversations, although it was not particularly loud and full in the pub.

A week later, under similar conditions, I tested the first hearing aids again for comparison. This time it was even louder and fuller in the pub. It soon became clear to me, however, that I could understand my husband relatively well and even understood threads of conversation from the surrounding area. The difference between the two hearing aids seemed even clearer than when testing the second hearing aid.

This was probably the clearest indication that the first hearing aids were the best fit for me. And that was what made my decision final.

At the final hearing test, at the acoustician’s, with the new hearing aids my intelligibility for numbers and words was about 90% at very low volume and even 100% at normal speech volume! Both my acoustician and I were pleasantly surprised by this result, as my hearing loss is more than 70% …
This means that my test phase has not only been successfully completed, but that the new hearing aids also have a great added value for me.

I am well aware that not every hearing aid fitting is so successful. That’s why I appreciate all the more what the new hearing aids can offer me.

With the accessories that I also tested, only one, a TV adapter, was successful. A so-called streamer for the landline telephone and PC (Skype), among other things, did not work as hoped. Actually, I needed the device mainly for telephoning with the landline telephone. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth protocol of the device did not match the Bluetooth protocol of our landline telephone. In short: our landline telephone was too old.

But fortunately we were able to solve this problem. We bought a landline telephone that was not too expensive and that was compatible with the correct Bluetooth protocol, and now I can even connect my RogerPen to it. In this way I can telephone again over Bluetooth with the landline telephone and then can hear the voice of my interlocutor (mostly my mother) directly in my hearing aids, which makes telephone for me less strenuous and also highly improves intelligibility. My husband and the neighbours will also be happy because I no longer have to use the LOUD telephone speakers.

So, end good, all good. I am happy, my environment is happy and even my husband is happy. Only our bank account is not happy, but even there we will find a solution!


auditory challenge, 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 Hintum will blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.


Housekeys with bodywarmers
I have written before about adjustments in and around the house. Adjustments that make life with hyperacusis* more pleasant. No, more pleasant is not the right word. It’s bearable actually, with all the annoying and painful sound stimuli that came into my ears every day. That was not liveable. I had a very depressive period of it, in the beginning.

In the beginning
I was referred to, and enrolled for therapy in a large academic hospital. I could only go there two months later. So I had to be patient for a while. Then it would take two months!

In that initial period I was afraid. Afraid of the unknown. Angry, on the tinnitus and hyperacusis. That that happened to me ! And sad. If it didn’t improve, it would turn my whole life upside down. Especially my work as a musician. Impatient, to start therapy. Impatient, to know everything, really everything about the t and h. Yes, I often cut them short; I have learned that on internet forums.

In that initial period I acquired a great deal of knowledge. The internet is a huge source in the field of t and h. Reliable often, but sometimes really not to be trusted.

The terrible personal stories, for example. From someone who committed suicide. I had a very bad night.

The organisations that provide more information. An enormous flood of objective information. And the forums. Lots of reading food. Lots of hours of reading and re-reading. Because my ability to concentrate, that was, and still is not optimal. I took notes, so I didn’t have to search afterwards.

And the success stories of alternative therapies. Those cost tons of money. Their effectiveness has not yet been demonstrated. I have become allergic to it.

But being referred by an ENT specialist to a university hospital, I trusted that ! And I had to wait a long time for it. I was afraid that my symptoms would only increase during that waiting period. Maybe that was the case?

Anyway, finally I could start. I will tell more about the therapy another time. The summary? It did not have the desired effect with me. For the t yes, for the h almost not.

Dress up, those keys
I can now handle the tinnitus well. However, my form of hyperacusis has proven to be a persistent one. It was not going to improve. A very small bit, okay, it did. But for the rest I will have to make the best of it myself. And I did.

And so we got all the variants soundless plastic in the house. Plates and cutlery. Silicone tile covers. I wrote about it before. And triple glazing in the windows. Well, we live well, so you do what you have to do … A rug on the glass table. The glasses in the cupboard far apart and next to each other, instead of stacked. Sweeping instead of vacuuming. Sow plants indoors instead of outdoors. Home delivery instead of eating in restaurants. The list is long.

A person becomes enormously resourceful. For example, the keys on the keyring all got a bodywarmer; a thick layer of tape around the body of each key. Then they can’t touch each other, those noisemongers.

* 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.