Hearing News

Breaking in your hearing aids

Nikki Roxburgh - 13 June 2015

Below are some ways to make it easier or at least make you more away of breaking in your hearing aids.

Getting used to hearing aids takes time.

You'll likely notice that your listening skills improves gradually as you become accustomed to the amplification. Even your own voice will sound different when you wear hearing aids to start with.

When first using a hearing aid, keep these points in mind:

  • Hearing aids won't return your hearing to normal. Hearing aids can't restore normal hearing. They can improve your hearing by amplifying soft sounds and reducing loud background noises.
  • Allow time to get used to the hearing aids. It may take several weeks or months before you're used to the hearing aid. But the more you use it, the more quickly you'll adjust to amplified sounds. Our audiologists always recommend that you use it around 12 hours a day.
  • Practice using the hearing aids in different environments. Your amplified hearing will sound different in different places. It will take you brain (auditory system) to get used to the sounds in the different places. Please persist and if you cannot cope please speak to your audiologist.
  • Seek support. A willingness to practice and the support of family and friends will help determine your success with your new hearing aids. Always think about the benefits you are receiving in the situations that matter most to you.
  • Go back for a follow-up. It's a good idea to take advantage of follow up appointments to discuss any concerns or if you require any adjustments. This will ensure that your new hearing aids are working for you as well as they can.

Your success with hearing aids will be helped by wearing them regularly and taking good care of them.

Always maintain your hearing aids, wax build up, moisture and not changing batteries are the most common reasons that your hearing aids might be performing sub-optimally. Please always ask your audiology clinic to check the hearing aids if you feel they are not performing as well as they were when you first left the clinic.

The goal is that, in time, you find your hearing aids comfortable and that they enhance your ability to hear and communicate. Otherwise what is the point!  We have many patients who can survive without them following these tips.

The Apple Watch and Hearing Aids

Nikki Roxburgh - 30 May 2015

The new Apple WatchTM and Hearing Aids

The new Apple WatchTM is pretty cool. You can send and receive messages, track your fitness and hear rate, listen to music, use the watch as a speaker phone, pay for things, listen to music wirelessly with Bluetooth devices and run apps like a mini iPhone. Oh, and of course it tells the time too.

So what does the Apple WatchTM have to do with Hearing Aids?


For the patients with a hearing loss that appreciate technology, Halo hearing aids are for you. Halo hearing aids are made for the iPhone® and the easy-to-use TruLink Hearing Control app is engineered to work specifically with your iPhone, iPad®, iPod touch® and Apple Watch™.

If you already have the Halo hearing aids what a great excuse to go and get the new Apple Watch™.

What is an Audiologist?

Nikki Roxburgh - 28 February 2015

An audiologist is a healthcare professional specialising in identifying, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular systems of the ear. Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage, and/or treat hearing, tinnitus or balance problems. Audiologists must have a a master’s degree to practice in the field. 

An audiologist can provide answers to questions like these:

• What do you do when you find out that you or a loved one has a hearing loss?

• Who do I turn to for quality hearing health care? • Can my hearing loss be helped with hearing aids?

• What are the different types of hearing loss?

• What can I do about the ringing in my ears (tinnitus)? 

An audiologist is the professional who specialises in evaluating and treating people with hearing loss. They have extensive training and skills in evaluating the hearing of adults, infants, and children of all ages. Audiologists conduct a wide variety of tests to determine the exact nature of an individual’s hearing problem, and they present an array of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment. They dispense and fit hearing aids, administer tests of balance to evaluate dizziness, and provide hearing-rehabilitation training. Audiologists refer patients when the hearing problem needs medical or surgical evaluation. 

Why should someone with hearing loss be evaluated by an audiologist?

Audiologists hold master’s degrees from accredited universities with special training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and nonmedical treatment of hearing disorders. They are now required to attend at least a one-year full-time internship before they receive their certificate of clinical practice. By virtue of their graduate education, professional certification, and internship, audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patients for medical treatment, and provide hearing-rehabilitation services.

What do audiologists do?

Audiologists perform comprehensive diagnostic hearing tests. They use specialised equipment to obtain accurate results about hearing loss. These tests are typically conducted in sound-treated rooms with calibrated equipment. The audiologist is trained to inspect the eardrum with an otoscope, perform earwax removal if necessary, conduct diagnostic audiological tests, and check for medically related hearing problems.

Hearing loss is caused by medical problems about 10% of the time. Audiologists are educated and trained to recognize these medical problems and refer patients to ear, nose, and throat physicians (ENTs; also known as otolaryngologists) if necessary. ENTs cannot medically or surgically treat 90% of hearing loss cases. Most persons with hearing impairment can benefit from the use of hearing aids, and audiologists are knowledgeable about the latest applications of hearing aid technology.

Ear wax removal via micro suction

Nikki Roxburgh - 14 February 2015

When I was a child I used to swim a lot and as a a result I was at our family's local Dr at least 4 times a year to get my ears syringed. I can still remember the feeling when the ear wax was removed it was such a relief. I could hear again and most importantly that blocked feeling was gone. I must admit I also loved looking at how much ear wax came out into that metal bowl!

Our two little girls are swimming a lot at the moment which has meant a lot of pool time for me and once again I find I am suffering from the same blocked sensation I had when I was a child.

My husband (James Roxburgh) is the Head Audiologist at Acute Hearing in Drummoyne and last year one of the Head Dr's from a local Medical Centre we work with approached James to see if he could perform Ear Wax Removal because they do not feel using the syringing method is the safest method of removal available. So James researched alternate methods of removal and purchased equipment for ear wax removal using micro-suction because it is the safest method and completed the additional training required.

James learnt that in New Zealand and the UK that micro-suction is the main method of ear wax removal as it is the safest extraction method.

So given my recent issues I can say that I have now experienced ear wax removal using the micro suction method and I was surprised to find that it was gentler, there was no wet feeling in my ear later and it was cleaner. The only thing I missed was seeing all that wax in the metal bowl at the end!

If you are experiencing a blocked feeling in your ears or just want to make sure that your ears are clean and healthy contact the staff at Acute Hearing on (02) 8599 1600  or at info@acutehearingnsw.com.au to book an ear wax removal appointment.

Nikki Roxburgh
The Audiologist's wife

10 steps to ensure hearing aid success

Nikki Roxburgh - 31 January 2015

1. Are you motivated to wear hearing aids?

If you don't want hearing aids, don't get them. The biggest key to success is the patient being willing to give them a go.

I ask patients to rate their hearing between 1 and 10 (10 being excellent hearing) and if a patient answers between 8 and 10 when their results show that they are a 4 or 5 out of 10 hearing aids are generally not prescribed as the patient is not motivated or open to using hearing aids.

As a general rule of thumb, patients who rate their hearing between 1 and 5 always see immediate benefits from hearing aids, those that answer 6 or 7 often trial the hearing aids to see if the perceived benefits are worth the investment.

2. Trial the hearing aids before buying them.

Please make sure you trial hearing aids, without paying for the hearing aids first. Hearing aids are an investment, much like when you buy a car - they need to be test driven. Just like when you test drive a car you should be able to test drive your hearing aids to make sure you are happy with the fitting, benefits and use of the hearing aids. Most Audiology clinics will require a copy of a drivers license and/or credit card details that are not processed as security to ensure that you do return them. If the clinic will not let you trial hearing aids find one that will.

3. Be honest with your Audiologist.

A good Audiologist will listen to your feedback and make the adjustments you require accordingly. Give honest feedback, the better and more open communication is with your Audiologist the better the outcome for the patient.

4. Ensure you are comfortable managing your hearing aids.

Before you buy your hearing aids, make sure you can manage your hearing aids, that is, that they fit correctly, you can put the hearing aids in and out of your ear easily, change the batteries and operate the hearing aids and accessories (if applicable).

If not, talk about your concerns with your Audiologist or a different style of hearing aids that might be easier to use.

5. Be prepared to visit the Audiology clinic if you need an update on cleaning and maintenance of your hearing aids.

There is a lot to remember to maintain and care for your hearing aids. Please be prepared to visit the Audiological clinic to refresh and go over cleaning techniques and care tips. Any Audiologist would prefer to see you many times so that you can learn to maintain and care for your hearing aids than have you buy them and not use them. More often than not, the performance of hearing aids deteriorates because of wax build up which is easily fixed.

6. Allow time for your ears and brain to adjust to the new sounds around you.

You may hearing things that you have not heard for a long time or you may perceive that the quality of sound has changed when you first wear your hearing aids.

Whether you are a new user or you have recently upgraded, it is important to be patient during this adaption time, results don't always come overnight.

7. Wear your hearing aids daily for optimal results.

I am always disappointed if a patient of mine wears their hearing aids less than 4 hours per day. In my experience, the patients that get the greatest success are those that embrace hearing aids and wear them for 8 hours or more per day. Putting their hearing aids on is just part of their daily routine, like cleaning your teeth.

8. Make sure you have annual hearing tests and adjustments (if required).

Hearing can deteriorate or change and it is important that at a minimum you see your Audiologist annually so that any necessary adjustments can be made to your hearing aids. This is also a chance for the Audiologist to answer any questions you may have regarding your hearing aids and your hearing.

If you notice increased difficulty hearing at any time make an appointment to see your Audiologist, any necessary adjustments can be made then.

9. Always clean and maintain your hearing aids.

It is really important that your hearing aids are cleaned and maintained, they will perform better and last much longer. Hearing aids are like gutters on your house, if you don't keep them clean and well maintained they don't work.

10. If you already have hearing aids and are unhappy with them - find the right Audiologist.

There are too many people who have their hearing aids sitting in the top drawer at home because they are unhappy with the performance of their hearing aids. Please get them out of the drawer and find the right Audiologist, so that you can work together to get the right solutions. After all, you probably paid a lot of money for them.

If you would like any further information or have any questions, do not hesitate to email me at info@acutehearingnsw.com.au or contact me on 02 8599 1600.

James Roxburgh
Head Audiologist and Owner

The 8 things you should know about tinnitus

Nikki Roxburgh - 17 January 2015

One: Tinnitus is often referred to as Ringing in the ears.

Tinnitus is a sound heard by one or both ears that is described by different people in various ways. To some people it is a high pitched ringing, whining, hissing sound or a low roaring noise.

Tinnitus can be very mild, noticeable only in quiet situations or it can become so loud that the individual hearings nothing else. It can be persistent, intermittent or throbbing depending on the cause.

Two: Most tinnitus is mild.

In fact it is relatively rare for it to develop into a chronic problem of life-altering severity.

Three: At any point about 10% of the population experiences tinnitus.

Millions of people around the world suffer from tinnitus. Probably 18% of Australians have tinnitus at some time of their lives and approximately 50 million Americans have tinnitus in some form.

Four: There are lots of causes.

While tinnitus does not cause hearing disorders, it may accompany decreased hearing and other ear symptoms such as pressure, unsteadiness or dizziness and can often occur alone. Some causes are:

  • Wax build up or obstructions;
  • Perforation of the ear drum or fluid build up;
  • Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis);
  • Ear infections (otitis media);
  • Exposure to sudden loud noise or repeated exposure to noise without protection;
  • Trauma to the head or neck (concussion or whiplash);
  • Some medications; and
  • High or low pressure or anemia.

Five: See an Audiologist if you think you have tinnitus.

An audiologist is trained to diagnose, treat and counsel a patient to improve symptoms.This is what you can expect to happen when you see an audiologist to assess your tinnitus.

  • A case history is taken to establish medical causes, such as, auditory conditions (otitis media, otosclerosis, acoustic neuroma), vascular system disorders, jaw disorders, head and neck injuries, depression and anxiety.
  • Tinnitus questionnaires are completed which help the audiologist to determine a patients emotional well-being and how severely the tinnitus is impacting their life
  • A diagnostic hearing assessment. Around 90% of people with tinnitus have a hearing loss.
  • Tinnitus test protocols are completed and used to determine the pitch and loudness of the tinnitus and how the tinnitus interacts with an external sound.
  • A discussion of the results with the patients is completed, including, questionnaires, tests and an explanation of the likely mechanisms causing the tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus counselling is provided, such as, foods & drinks to avoid, stress management techniques and coping mechanisms.
  • Discussion of treatment options is provided if beneficial to the patient, for example, noise generators, tinnitus maskers, amplification of sound, sound pillows, referrals to other specialists etc.

Six: Tinnitus is more common in people with hearing loss.

Around 90% of people with tinnitus have a hearing loss. The severity of tinnitus doesn't correlate with the degree of hearing loss. For those with a hearing loss, Hearing aids are helpful. Straining to listen can cause tinnitus to emerge or worsen. Correcting hearing loss reduces the level of tinnitus in many cases. A free hearing aid trial is recommended for tinnitus sufferers with hearing loss.

Seven: There is help available.

Tinnitus in most patients is of an acute phase of distress when the problem begins and is generally followed by improvement over time. It is all too common that patients are told that nothing can be done about tinnitus. Negative statements often tend to exacerbate tinnitus and accompanying distress.

The patients needs to have a balanced diet, reduce salt, try to relax, avoid excesses of caffeine & alcohol. While there is currently no cure, an audiologist can provide a range of treatment options and counseling.

Eight: Tinnitus can be made worse.

Exposure to sudden or long term noise can result in tinnitus. Stress and fatigue only exacerbate tinnitus. It is essential to tell your family doctor about your tinnitus; some common medications cause tinnitus as a side effect or make your existing tinnitus worse. Take special care with medications for arthritis, rheumatic diseases, some antibiotics, and anti-depressants. Also aspirin - ask your doctor about alternatives. Try easing off caffeine, smoking and alcohol as they can temporarily worsen tinnitus for some people.

Tinnitus isn’t simple. Everybody's tinnitus noise is individual to them. Its causes are many (though excessive noise and some medications are the major preventable causes). The range of tinnitus is very wide from mild to severe. It is usual for tinnitus to fluctuate with stress or tiredness and this has no sinister significance.

If tinnitus is troubling you TAKE ACTION NOW. Call us 02 8599 1600

Sources: http://www.tinnitus.asn.au/, Your guide to better hearing, Better Hearing Institute & British Tinnitus Association website.

Looking for people who don't wear their hearing aids

Nikki Roxburgh - 11 September 2014


Little research has been conducted to determine why people do not wear their hearing aids. There is not even a reliable statistic on how many people do not wear their hearing aids in Australia. This is an area of Audiology that I am particularly interested in and as a result, I will be conducting a research study over the next two years.


In order to participate, someone must be over the age of 27 years and wear their hearing aids less than 3 hours a day or not at all.

The participant will be required to come to Acute Hearing to meet with me (free of charge) and complete a 5 minute questionnaire. I will look at their hearing aids, how they are programmed and then have a discussion with the participant regarding their experience with them. In return for the participants time I will provide a free hearing aid adjustment.

The research study results will be anonymous. The results may be published in Audiological journals and other relevant literature and will be used by Acute Hearing to improve our services.

If the participant is receiving hearing services as part of the Office of Hearing Service voucher scheme, that is, they are a Pensioner or Veteran and see another Audiologist; they are still allowed to participate in the study. I will not, however, be able to adjust their hearing aids without the participant providing permission for me to become their future hearing provider.

I would appreciate it if you could spread the word and let me know if you or of any friends or family would be willing to participate or have them contact us on 8599 1600.

James Roxburgh
Head Audiologist

Don't put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow!

Nikki Roxburgh - 28 May 2014

Some people are tempted to use things such as cotton buds, hair clips and other small items to clean their ears. However, ear specialists see an alarming number of ear problems (some serious) linked to the use of cotton buds. The ears naturally clean themselves. A face washer/flannel to wipe away wax at the outer ear is often all that is needed.

Blocked ears make you feel irritated, and dull your hearing. Hard ear wax can easily become embedded in the ear, causing pain, loss of hearing, balance upset and whistling hearing aids. This can be upsetting to you and those around you.  

Introducing Ear Wax Removal at Acute Hearing

The Audiologists at Acute Hearing clean your ears and give you relief without the discomfort of syringing with water. A more gentle and successful approach of ear wax removal is used. Wax is removed under a microscope using the Vorotek O Scope. The same techniques used by some Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist doctors.

Many people suffer ear blockages from ear wax and need regular cleaning. In the past, this meant a visit to the doctor who would generally use water syringing to flush out the wax.  For some this is not comfortable and sometimes leaves wax behind.

Hearing aid wearers are particularly prone to ear wax build up resulting in hearing loss and hearing aid feedback or whistling. It was only last week that I had a hearing aid user tell me her aids were not working and I found a piece of cotton embedded close to her ear drum.

Acute Hearing removes ear wax from children and adults and also remove objects which can become stuck in the ear. The cost for ear wax removal is $95. Whilst referrals are provided by Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists and Doctors they are not necessary.

James Roxburgh

My wife's experience at the Optometrist

Nikki Roxburgh - 14 August 2013

For our current clients, you may have seen or met my wife Nikki who is often in the reception area of the clinic.

For the last 18 years she has worked each day on a laptop. Nikki does a lot of work with numbers , writing papers and preparing presentations. I would say that over the last 3 months Nikki has gradually noticed that she has been missing things or having to try harder at work to see things. She has accidentally paid one of our staff incorrectly seeing a 6 as an 8 and there are many more examples like these.

Of course Nikki thought her vision was perfect and that there was nothing wrong with her eye sight. Despite these protests, I did manage to get her to the Optometrist.

Turns out Nikki needed glasses for her stigmatisms. She left the Optometrist saying "I think he was playing a trick on me - like those placebo effect with tablets". I bet I will not even notice the difference when I put them on. A particular conversation stood out to me, I remember her saying "my eyes aren't that bad, I can cope most of the time" and I remember saying to her "you sound just like my clients".

When Nikki picked up the glasses and put them on she could not believe the difference. She wears them all the time now at work and does not understand how she survived without them.

Going through this process with her just gave me a friendly reminder of what many of my clients go through when they contemplate seeking help for their hearing loss. It also reinforced to me how important it is to trial hearing aids (http://www.acutehearingnsw.com.au/free-hearing-aid-trials ) so that you can make sure that you experience the difference they can make before purchasing them.

Nikki will not be happy with me for writing this section, but since getting the glasses a couple of our friends and colleagues have suggested that this is often the first sign of middle age. They asked her is she was nearing 40 years of age or was just over 40 years old because that is often when the aging process starts.

It made me wonder how many of my clients spouses have coped with hearing loss as it normally takes an individual 7 years to address their hearing loss not the 3 months it took Nikki to get glasses.

James Roxburgh

What John Russell has to say about Acute Hearing

Nikki Roxburgh - 14 July 2013


Thanks very much for all your assistance in steering me towards well fitted, comfortable and, yes pretty good sounding, hearing aids.

What is more remarkable is that I actually purchased them – particularly so in light of the challenge that I threw you right from the start when I did tell you that previously I had had a dismal experience elsewhere where I was being very quickly pushed to buy an expensive product that sounded like tinny transistors through drainpipes and they were ill-fitting and uncomfortable to boot.

Apart from your incredible patience during our numerous appointments (I lost count!) and your persistence in correcting the issues that I regularly outlined from my painful listings of pros and cons of each model that you allowed me to trial, you never once pushed me to buy.

In fact more than once you did insist that, unless I was completely happy and ready, you would prefer that I did not buy.

I was also very appreciative that you have a number of brands and models from which to choose and you are not pushing one brand only. This really did allow genuine choice and the most suitable model.

I am sure that most people are like me insofar as firstly, finding it difficult to acknowledge that there is a hearing problem, since this is often associated with being a sign of age, and secondly not wanting to be known as or seen wearing a hearing aid, another perceived sign of age.

Not only am I finding I can again involve myself in situations that I had been avoiding, but I actually get a bit of a kick out of having to point out to people that I am wearing hearing aids – “You’re kidding me! Where? I can’t see them!”

Strange isn’t it?

Thanks again and looking forward to the musician’s earplugs – just let me know when they’re ready.

John Russell

Totalcare Hearing

As of 30th March, Acute Hearing has combined with Totalcare Hearing. With this change comes access to further clinics in our small, friendly Sydney team.

Drummoyne - now Hunters Hill Clinic

  • Shop 7b, 45 Gladesville Road,
  • Hunters Hill, NSW 2110
  • 02 8999 9523

West Pennant Hills Clinic

  • Suite 3, 562-564 Pennant Hills Road,
  • West Pennant Hills 2125
  • 02 8859 8880
  • 02 8088 6324

Bondi Junction Clinic

  • Shop 10, 251 Oxford Street,
  • Bondi Junction, NSW 2022
  • 02 8076 3766

Caringbah Clinic

Neutral Bay Clinic

  • Shop 2, 3-5 Waters Road,
  • Neutral Bay, NSW 2089
  • 02 8076 9118

North Ryde Clinic

  • North Ryde Family Medical Practice (visiting site, once a month)
  • Shop 1-4, 132 Coxs Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113
  • 02 8999 9523

Putney Clinic

  • Putney Medical Practice (visiting site, once a month)
  • 227 Morrison Rd, Ryde, NSW 2112
  • 02 8999 9523
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