Tinnitus Awareness App

By Chrissy Hughes on 10th December 2014

Shelley Bartlette, Senior Lecturer in Digital Design at Canterbury Christ Church University has developed a ‘parent-friendly’ mobile application in a bid to raise awareness about noise-induced tinnitus. Shelley kindly wrote us a blog piece about why she developed the app, and what exactly it does. 

In October 2011, I had just put my 16-month old son to bed and was enjoying a well-earned break when I became aware of a loud high-pitched ringing in my right ear. Numerous tests later, I was diagnosed with permanent tinnitus and was told I would have to learn to live with it. At first I found the condition extremely distressing, and struggled to come to terms with the lack of silence. It was at this point that I started to research the subject to better understand the condition and how it manifests. I was genuinely shocked to discover that exposure to loud noise could have such a permanent impact on hearing and that tinnitus caused by loud noise was considered almost entirely preventable.

“I genuinely didn’t realise that loud noise could be so harmful on my hearing and now I have lost silence forever. I can’t turn back the clock, but I can use my experience to help others avoid tinnitus”.

Shelley has launched the Tinnitus Awareness app for iPhone, aimed at parents with young children. “I wanted to raise awareness of tinnitus caused by loud noise and provide parents with the facts so they can help protect their children’s hearing for life”.

The app is designed to be both informative and fun, in the hope of parents and their children learning about noise levels together. It includes an interactive sound meter that sees a customisable cartoon face change from happy through to sad depending of the noise level. The device also vibrates in the parent’s pocket to warn them where noise levels are potentially damaging and offers advice and guidance. Tinnitus Awareness isn’t about avoiding noise, it is about raising awareness and understanding of noise limits. Parents really can make a difference to the future of their children’s hearing and the earlier they start talking about this, the better.

About the author:

Shelley has been involved in a number of other research projects alongside professional audiologist Mark Scutchings. Sound pressure levels were measured at a number of venues attended by children and were analysed to ascertain whether they pose a potential risk on hearing.  At a children’s disco party, music was played at worryingly high noise levels. Measuring 119db for the duration of each piece of music, the recommended safe exposure time without hearing protection is just 15 seconds; far less than the 2-hour disco duration (it is worth noting that the measurement was taken several meters away from the sound source, so some children would have been exposed to far louder volumes). If this were a factory, sound would not be allowed to be so loud without hearing protection. We have spent time making sure factories and work places are safe and now it appears that’s here’s another source of potentially dangerous noise exposure, which should not be ignored.

You can read more about Shelley here:

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