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Ballyfermot Teen is Youngest ‘Give Back’ Recipient

Campaign for Better Hearing Recipient 

Fitting in is important for schoolchildren, but not hearing properly makes that task even harder, as 13-year-old Leona Egan from Ballyfermot discovered in early childhood.

Now in her second year at St Dominic’s College secondary school in Ballyfermot, the bubbly teenager is the latest recipient of new hearing technology in Hidden Hearing’s ‘Give Back’ campaign.

Leona’s poor hearing was noticed by a teacher when she was aged just 4, in junior infants.  Her mum was told she wasn’t picking up things as much as the other children.

Leona was diagnosed with hearing the loss in both ears and treated with grommets, which fell out after a while; but Leona’s hearing never returned properly.

“I was very young when I realised I was different, but not quite sure why.  I would notice other kids listening to things and laughing, or acting on instructions from teachers that I simply couldn’t hear.  It was confusing and frustrating”, the teenager explains.

Prescribed hearing aids through the HSE, the young girl found them uncomfortable, saying they felt large in her ears.  But she knew she needed to wear them.

“In crowds and in public places I would struggle a lot, even sometimes wearing my hearing aids.  If my mum was calling me from across a crowded room, I would need to be looking at her to know she wanted me.”

Missing out over Hearing Loss

Despite her mild hearing loss in both ears, Leona lives a full life and did cheerleading in school, and even played the violin for a while.

But her mum Catherine knew she wasn’t happy with her HSE hearing aids and was very self-conscious.  More importantly, the sound quality wasn’t great and Leona was still missing things.  Catherine worried it would affect Leona’s school work.

“She was struggling hearing wise, with them, and I don’t think they really suited her.  When she was doing activities, they kept falling out, and so she was missing out on things that other kids were doing. I wanted her to be able to do as much as her friends and not miss anything”, Leona’s mum says.

Reading about Hidden Hearing’s Campaign for Better Hearing and the ‘Give Back’ scheme, Leona’s mother called Hidden Hearing and booked an appointment for a hearing test.   They were seen straight away and Noel Cullen, the Hearing Aid Audiologist in the Middle Abbey Street branch in Dublin city centre, had the solution to Leona’s problem.

Not only were hearing aids fitted that were streets ahead of any Leona had ever worn, the delighted teenager found out she had been selected as a ‘Give Back’ recipient and would have her treatment and hearing aids provided totally free.

‘I have had many different hearing aids all my life, but these are so small and so much crisper, I am totally amazed at the sounds I can now hear.  They even match my hair colour and are so tiny, they can hardly be seen”, the excited teenager says.

Leona now says she would love to study audiology when she is older, such was her great experience of the treatment she had from Noel Cullen and the team at Hidden Hearing.

“I have learned so much, and found out what a huge difference the right hearing aids can make, that I’d like to be able to help people to hear better too”, Leona Egan says.

86% of Hearing Loss Untreated        

Over three-quarters of hearing loss in Ireland goes untreated, for various reasons, even though 1 in 5 adults suffer from at least a mild hearing problem.   By the age of 55, a quarter of the population report a significant deterioration in their hearing and, by 65, this applies to one third of people.

Dolores Madden, the Hidden Hearing Marketing Director, says that over half the population between the ages of 60 and 80 are likely to have measurable hearing loss, which they really need to address.

“Of all the senses, hearing really affects our quality of life and has significant health and safety implications.  It is a simple fact of life that, as we age, everyone’s hearing gets worse.  It can be a nuisance though, and isolating, so hearing loss must be treated, just like any other health condition”.

Hidden Hearing’s Campaign for Better Hearing is supported by Daniel and Majella O’Donnell and is designed to educate the public on taking care of their hearing, just as they would look after their teeth, eyesight, blood pressure or cholesterol.

The campaign encourages everyone over the age of 50 to have a free hearing test, and the Hidden Hearing “Give Back” programme fits complimentary hearing devices for deserving recipients.

Hidden Hearing branches countrywide offer help and advice for anyone worried about hearing loss, and can provide detail of grants for medical card holders, tax relief and PRSI treatment benefits.

Free Hearing Test available

Free hearing testing is available in over 80 state-of-the-art Hidden Hearing clinics throughout Ireland, as the healthcare provider drives home the message that taking care of hearing is essential, not least because life is worth hearing!

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