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I was reminded recently of a great little hearing exercise from my days supporting cochlear implant patients at the Health Sciences Centre.  Understanding speech on the radio can often be difficult with a hearing loss because there are no visual references (lip reading, body language) to supplement what you hear.  Typically I would recommend books on tape as an excellent hearing workout.  Patients could read along with the recording and really develop and sharpen their auditory skills.

Well this being 2016 there’s now an even better source for written+recorded material that is current and relevant and it comes courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting

Recordings and transcripts of “As it Happens” and “The Current” are now available 24 hours after the episode airs on the CBC website (for details click here).  This is fantastic news for severely hearing impaired or deaf clients or for anyone looking to give their hearing brains a good listening workout.  Enjoy the good news.





In the spring of every year people with hearing loss and deafness battle the Canada Revenue Agency to be granted the federal disability tax credit.  Unfortunately, the current definition for a markedly restrictive hearing loss is far to narrow.  It includes only those who are so severely and profoundly hearing impaired or deaf and that they have essentially no useful hearing at all, even with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Please consider clicking on the link below and signing the online petition to change the current regulations.  We need to include people who depend on their hearing aids and cochlear implants for daily communication and safety.  For the majority of people who wear them, hearing aids and cochlear implants are not just a lifestyle choice but a necessity.  They carry the added burden of purchase and maintenance of these technologies as well as other social and economic costs.

Please follow the link below.  Many thanks in advance for your support.

Disability Tax Credit & Hearing Loss: Petition to Government of Canada

WE’VE MOVED TO 94 Elizabeth Avenue!

June 7th, 2016 by qcurrie

Well a big thanks to everyone who had to put up with us being closed for a week but we are finally in our new location at 94 Elizabeth Avenue!  Right on the corner of Elizabeth Avenue and Portugal Cove Road this location was the former Allan’s Video store.

Thank you also to my good friend Maynard King of King Process Technologies for helping move our massive testing suite 2 stories down and one block over.

Look forward to serving you at our new offices.

Check out this concise and well written article from a great consumer resource:
Best Practices in Hearing Enhancement

We’re very pleased to announce being awarded the 2015 Consumer Choice Award for Hearing Service in St. John’s and area. This is very exciting for us here at Red Door because the CCA is determined by a third party survey of real opinions from real people. We know we’re by no means the biggest hearing clinic in St. John’s but we strive to be the best service provider everyday. We believe that when our clients succeed we succeed. It’s very gratifying to hopefully have attained some measure of success in that regard. Thank you to all our clients and their families for making this award possible.
Consumer Choice

Click Here to link to the Consumer Choice Award Profile Page

What Percentage is your Hearing Loss?

March 9th, 2015 by qcurrie

I commonly hear people describe their hearing in percent.  “I had my hearing tested a few years back and they said I had 30% gone.” they will say.  But where does that number come from?  Well, usually it comes from a test called a Speech Reception Threshold or SRT.  This is usually the first quick test administered by an Audiologist as part of a complete assessment.  It’s really meant as a quick and simple way of getting a sense of someone’s hearing.  It involves asking the client to repeat words as the volume is raised and lowered in steps and should take about 15 seconds per ear.  From the SRT the Audiologist can make decisions that make the best use of testing time for example, by focusing on the better ear first.  But the SRT is never meant to be used as a measure of percentage of hearing loss.  It’s too fast and too blunt an instrument to properly define a person’s hearing.  The SRT can be extremely misleading especially if the client has a high frequency hearing loss, as most people do.   Frequently I have clients with SRT’s in the 5 to 10 decibel volume range that have severe high frequency hearing loss and very real, real-world struggles.   Even more troubling is when well-meaning health professionals see a “good” SRT and suggest that a client avoid trying hearing instruments and live with the problems they’ve been experiencing.

As an Audiologist, I try to be as accurate as possible in describing a client’s hearing assessment results to them.  I want them to understand exactly the nature of their hearing loss as well as the potential they may have for improvement.  Therefore, as a profession we prefer to use terms such as: mild, moderate, severe and profound to describe hearing loss.  We base our judgements on the entirety of the assessment, not just one number like the SRT and we take the time to describe in detail to our clients the results of their assessment.  When they are better informed they can better make decisions regarding their hearing healthcare.

So if you ever hear someone talk about percent hearing loss, take that number with a large grain of salt.  There’s much more to hearing than repeating a few words in a quiet room.  And if you are having trouble hearing and someone tells you in an off-hand way that your hearing is fine take that with a grain of salt too and seek the advice of your local Audiologist.  I’m 100% certain you’ll be glad you did.

A recent Japanese meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that people with diabetes were 2.15 times as likely as those without the disease to have hearing loss. When broken down by age, surprisingly the younger subjects were at greater risk.

The results showed that those under 60 with diabetes were 2.61 times more likely to have hearing loss, while the risk for those older than 60 was 1.58 times higher. The researchers reviewed 13 previous studies—published between 1977 and 2011—that examined the link between diabetes and hearing loss.


Have you ever had a favorite song you love to sing along with, fully convinced that you have accurately committed this song to memory only to find out after years of singing it that you had some of the words wrong?  You’ve heard this song for years and you are 100% certain that you know what the singer is singing but in reality you are wrong.  I have had this happen to me and it must happen to people quite often.  In fact, it happens often enough that there are even humorous websites devoted to this phenomenon.  For example, instead of hearing “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind” in Bob Dylan’s famous song, people instead have heard “The Ants are my friends.  They’re blowing in the wind”.  Instead of the lyrics “There’s a bad moon on the rise” in CCR’s classic song, people have heard “There’s a bathroom on the right”.  As hilarious as these mistakes may be, they highlight a very interesting ability of the auditory system to help us cope with everyday life and also how that same ability can work against us.

Everybody has trouble hearing at one time or another.  Whether you have “normal” hearing or some degree of hearing loss, spoken language isn’t always clear.  When we’re listening to someone and we can’t quite make out what they’re saying, the auditory and language systems of our brains must make an educated guess or admit defeat.  This process happens continually and constantly every waking minute of every day.  Sometimes the speech sounds are clear and we can easily interpret the speaker’s message but other times our brain needs to put a lot of extra effort into filling in the missing information.  The human brain is exceptionally good at filling in the blanks.  In fact, researchers have found that you can insert rather large chunks of random noise into spoken words and not lose the message.  In many cases test subjects are completely unaware of the manipulation.  That’s how good we are at coping.

But, this “filling in” comes with one major problem:  We can’t tell when it’s happening and we are often utterly convinced that we are 100% correct (like the favorite song lyrics) even though we may be very wrong.  In addition, this constant extra processing by the auditory system takes effort and resources.  Hearing loss causes us to miss certain key speech sounds more often, which then puts a greater demand on the brain to “fill in”.  As an Audiologist, I’m always amazed at how clients often struggle for years with a hearing loss before seeking help.  Part of that reluctance to act comes from the amazing “filling in” ability of the brain.  They can’t hear what they’re missing because their auditory system is working overtime to create something out of next to nothing.  They believe the lie created by their own perception and are convinced that they are doing o.k.  On the positive side, I’m equally amazed at how clients with very dramatic hearing losses can cope so well after being fit with hearing instruments.  Just a few extra consonants here and there can make such a difference.  It’s amazing how resilient we can be when we look after ourselves and give our ears the sounds they are craving.  Our brain’s natural listening abilities (skills that we’ve practiced our entire life) can continue to do the job, with a little help.

Newfoundlanders will have a variety of concert experiences to enjoy once again this summer and while they are creating lasting memories of good times and seeing their favorite artists in person, they are also creating lasting hearing damage.  I see it year after year, client’s reporting that their hearing was fine until they attended a concert.  They complain of ringing, buzzing, roaring or thumping in their ears for hours, days or months after or sometimes forever.  Whenever your ears ring or you’ve noticed a shift in your hearing after loud noise exposure, you’ve done permanent damage to your hearing.  The damage occurs without pain so you’re unaware of it at the time and it is never repaired.

So how do we get our yearly dose of music without eventually losing the ability to enjoy it?  Use hearing protection.  I know that it’s unpopular and inconvenient and maybe even un-cool, but it’s the only way that really works.  You can stay all day, be as close to the stage as you like and still be able to hear the grass grow the next day.  If you’ve made the mistake of overdoing it, give your ears lots of rest afterward to minimize the damage, at least 48hrs with no loud noise exposure.  If you’re bringing your children to the event be sure to protect their hearing as well and in the process, develop a lifelong habit that they’ll thank you for when they hit middle-age.

For true music lovers though, the muffled or plugged sound of standard foam earplugs may rob them of any enjoyment so I suggest “musician’s earplugs.”  They’re just as effective, are reusable, are reasonably cheap (<$50/pair) and can be found at most music supply shops.  They have a special filter that doesn’t muffle the high frequencies which in turn preserves the clarity of the instruments and vocals while still protecting your hearing.  Professional and amateur musicians will often have me make custom fit plugs for better comfort but the sound quality is the same.  I wear them to every concert and forget that they’re in, they sound that good.  Don’t sacrifice a lifetime of good hearing for one ear splitting concert but instead enjoy every concert for the rest of your life.

Normal for Your Age – Certainly Not!

May 1st, 2012 by qcurrie

Normal for Your Age – Certainly Not!

As an Audiologist, I can’t tell you how many clients come into my office and say the following:

“I had a hearing test once and it showed my hearing was down but the doctor told me that it was normal for my age.

One recent client expressed how insulted she was that the doctor assumed, because she was a senior, good hearing wasn’t important to her (she was 89 by the way!).  I would have to strongly agree with her feelings and my blood boils every time I hear another account of how a health professional, however well-meaning, mis-informs their patient.

If their patient had a broken leg would they say, “That’s normal after a fall like you’ve had.” Or if they had cataracts would they say, “Oh your vision is going but that’s normal for your age.”  Certainly not!  They would recommend the appropriate course of action to restore the patient to as close to full health as possible.  While hearing loss amongst seniors is indeed common, it is also common for non-seniors as well but you don’t hear them being told “Hearing loss is normal for a 22 year old like you.”

So many people live with hearing loss and taking action is a big step which takes no small amount of courage and humility.  They’re looking for reassurance from their doctor that they are not ‘going crazy’ and indeed need some help and good advice.  That there’s some hope for improvement if they go see an Audiologist.  When they’re told “It’s normal for your age.” the real message is, “You should just live with it, it’s who you are now, a person who doesn’t need to hear because you’re old.”

Un-addressed hearing loss causes communication problems that are anything but ‘normal’ and the negative impact on a person’s general health and medical status is very real and well documented.

But the tide is changing.  Slowly, physicians are taking a more proactive approach to hearing care and recommending that patients get tested even before problems arise.   Today’s seniors are re-defining what it is to be a senior.  They’re active, involved, and engaged in shaping the economy, society and the entire world.  What will be considered ‘normal’ in 8 years when two thirds of North America is over the age of 60!

So if someone tells you hearing loss is ‘normal for your age’ politely, but firmly let them know that your hearing is important to you at any age.  Everyone is entitled to enjoy easy, natural communication with their loved-ones and friends.  To deny someone the opportunity to stay connected is in effect saying they don’t matter.  And you matter!