Speaker for 19th November 2019

President John McGlade greets Barry Grimes, with club member Ian Murray (R) and Club Treasurer Nigel Semple (L)

Coleraine Probus, speaking-up for the hard of hearing

President John McGlade was speaking-up well when he welcomed our speaker at a recent Probus meeting. This was Barry Grimes, who was along to talk about the 'Loss of Hearing and Tinnitus' - "What did you say?", "I said loss of hearing and tinnitus!", "Pardon!", "I SAID LOSS OF… Oh, just read the rest of this……."

To set the scene, Barry started his talk with some local statistics. There are around 300,000 people in Northern Ireland that have hearing loss, but only about 70,000 have hearing aids. In addition, there are about 275,000 that suffer from Tinnitus, for which there is no cure. Some 7,000 of these are severely affected by Tinnitus.

Barry is employed by R.N.I.D. better known now as “Action for Hearing Loss” (AFHL). This is a U.K. charity with roots in the year 1911 and is supported by The National Lottery Fund. In Northern Ireland there are 51 AFHL support units working with a wide range of sufferers.

Hearing loss is a 'hidden disability', it is not age related, yet it is life changing. A simple ear infection can damage any number of the 15,000 tiny hairs within the ear, that convey sound waves to the brain, which in turn interprets this as noise/sound. Fifty years ago this was closely linked with the noise of heavy industry. Now days, it is an even bigger problem for youngsters with their headphones for music or computer games.

Barry said it is estimated that up to 40% of people experience Tinnitus. Do not ignore the signs of hearing loss, go the doctor's and get them to refer you for an 'Ear, Nose and Throat' (ENT) appointment. If you think people are mumbling or failing to follow a conversation, or perhaps talking more loudly, these may be signs of hearing loss.

Across the whole of the UK, about half the population aged 50 and over, have severe hearing loss. The signs and difficulties of hearing loss can be seen in:- head colds; earwax; chest infections and sinus blockage, all or some are often present. Hearing loss can affect your balance, slow down your brain functions and can also be linked to dementia. Barry stressed the importance of having hearing checks, and there is an Action on Hearing Loss free monthly clinic at The Sandel Centre where our local Hearing Aid Liaison Officer, Susan Gilchrist, can be contacted for an appointment (ring her mobile on 0794 016 0672).

Barry finished his talk with a little statistical anomaly. Of around 2.5m people that have hearing aids supplied to them, and another 4m people would benefit from hearing aids. However, about 1.6m people with hearing aids don't use them - 'couldn't get on with it', 'too fiddly to use', 'didn't feel comfortable', are some of the reasons given. Barry stressed the importance of not giving up, take one step at a time, put the aids in for a short period at a time and the ears will become more use to the aids. As Barry said, "with a little effort and some patience, you can live a happier hearing life, and possibly live longer too!" - Now that's an offer no Probus member would want to turn down!

(Many thanks to Graham for the help with this report)

Members wanting to find out a bit more about ACTION ON HEARING LOSS, 'Click' the logo below (this will open in a new window)


For Club Members wishing to contact the Hearing Aid Liaison Officer, Susan Gilchrist;
Phone: 028 9023 9619; Mobile 07940 160672
Email: Susan.Gilchrist@hearingloss.org.uk
LOCAL MEETING CENTRE (advice, free hearing tests, free replacement hearing aid batteries, etc. visit:
The Sandel Centre, 6 Knocklynn Road, Coleraine, BT52 1WT.
Meetings on the THIRD WEDNESDAY in the month…
Wednesday 18th December 2019, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.
Wednesday 15th January 2020, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and so on.

And finally, some Northern Ireland FACTS on Hearing Loss…