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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 191

Date:- 13 March 2005

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AN estimated 100,000 people in Merseyside have experienced noises such as buzzing, ringing or whistling in the ears or head. And while 3.3 million people in the UK have experienced these noises to such an extent they have consulted their GP, the condition is still largely neglected. 

Noises, which do not have an external source, are called tinnitus. The condition has no known medical cure and attracts very little scientific research. Mystery around tinnitus has borne many myths and misconceptions that 3 leading charities representing people with tinnitus, hope to dispel during Tinnitus Awareness Day, which falls on Tuesday, 22 March.

With very limited information about tinnitus and its causes, myths and bogus therapies and products create further misunderstanding and distress around what can already be devastating to those who experience it.

Ingrid Pitts says of her tinnitus:- "I find it extremely difficult to cope with every day things as my tinnitus just takes over and there is no respite from it. When the flare-ups occur, the noises in both ears becomes much louder and there is no way I can mask it, I can even hear it above the washing machine on a spin cycle! I am also experiencing a loud roaring noise in both ears which comes and goes, sometimes lasting a couple of hours and sometimes all day." 

To ensure that the general public are more aware of what tinnitus is, it's causes and treatments, RNID, the largest charity representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, Action for Tinnitus Research (ATR) and The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), hope to shatter tinnitus myths during Tinnitus Awareness Day:-

Shattering the Myths:- 
Myth:- Tinnitus is all in the mind 
Fact:- Although many people think that tinnitus is a psychological condition this is not the case. Tinnitus can be generated anywhere in the auditory system - in the ears, nerves of hearing or the auditory pathways in the brain. 

Myth:- Tinnitus is due to high blood pressure or a serious medical condition 
Fact:- This is very rarely the case. Although tinnitus may occasionally be a pointer towards underlying medical conditions, it can also be found in people with normal hearing. 

Myth:- Tinnitus only affects older people 
Fact:- Tinnitus affects people of all ages, including children. 

Myth:- Tinnitus is a form of hearing loss 
Fact:- Tinnitus is not a form of hearing loss:- in fact people with completely normal hearing may experience tinnitus. 

Myth:- Tinnitus causes deafness 
Fact:- This is not true. However, although tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, the opposite is true and hearing loss can sometimes give rise to tinnitus. 

Myth:- Tinnitus worsens with time 
Fact:- This is not true. In the great majority of cases, tinnitus tends to improve rather than get worse over time. 

Myth:- There's nothing that can be done to help 
Fact:- There is no absolute cure for tinnitus in the form of a drug therapy, however there is much that can be done to help people to manage it effectively. 

Myth:- Tinnitus is only heard as ringing 
Fact:- People with tinnitus have reported hearing a huge range of noises such as whistling, buzzing, humming, revving engines and even music. 

Myth:- Tinnitus is only experienced in the ears 
Fact:- Although some people describe hearing tinnitus in their ears other people describe it as being inside the head or even around the outside of the head. 

Myth:- Tinnitus interferes with sleep 
Fact:- Many people with tinnitus think that it wakes them up. When people wake naturally it is more likely that they are thirsty or need the bathroom rather than being woken by their tinnitus. 

Myth:- Botox cures tinnitus 
Fact:- To date a very small scale study in the US which injected botox around the ears showed some positive effect of botox on tinnitus, but further large scale studies need to be conducted in order to draw definitive conclusions

Anyone believing that they, or someone close to them, has tinnitus should contact RNID, ATR or the BTA to ensure that they have impartial information on therapies, support and products available before shelling out on expensive treatments that may have no proven effectiveness.


NEW survey finds that Liverpool parents are most likely to sing to their kids in the bath. As today's hectic lifestyle makes it increasingly difficult for parents and their children to spend quality time as a family; 8/10 parents now use bathing their kids as an opportunity to be together, a new bath time survey has shown.

This is great news for all kids as over 94% mums and dads claim that their children love splashing about in the bath. When asked about their child's bath time routine, around 75% of parents said they set aside at least 15-20 minutes each day - with boats coming out as the nation's favourite bath time toy. 

Over 65% of couples surveyed also said that they bathe their children together to make the most of the family occasion. Furthermore, the survey also found that Liverpool parents are most likely to sing to their kids when they're in the bath!

Yet while most parents claim that their kids like bathing, over 65% of parents admitted that their child was less likely to wash their hands before a meal - even though messy play is top of a little person's agenda, with boys preferring outdoor activities and girls loving creative play like painting and sticking.

All that fun leads to sticky fingers, but how do you encourage kids to clean their mucky hands? Over 81% of parents agreed that a fun washing product would encourage their child to wash themselves more readily, both in the bath and before meals.

The survey was conducted by Pampers Kandoo, to celebrate the launch of two new products:- Kandoo® Foaming wash mittens and Kandoo Instant foam handwash.


CRIMINAL activity against businesses has increased dramatically according to the latest findings from AXA's Business Crime Index. The index, which is based on AXA's own claims database, shows the number of claims settled as a result of criminal activity in the last quarter of 2004 rose by over 22% compared to the previous quarter. During the last three months of 2004, the average crime related business claim settlement was £3,643.

Response from the business community 
This increase in business related crime has resulted in growing calls for tougher penalties for criminals. AXA's research reveals that 58% of businesses believe that the impact and seriousness of business crime is generally overlooked, and that there should be a greater focus on tackling this problem from both the Government and Police. 

AXA research reveals that 62% of businesses believe that there are not enough Police on the streets. In terms of the penalties used to punish criminals, the business community would like to see the following changes:-

· 23% want community service sentences to be lengthened 
· 32% would like to see tougher financial penalties 
· 46% want longer custodial sentences 
· 29% want to see more custodial sentences awarded

Types of crime that affect UK businesses

Businesses are most likely to be victims of theft or malicious damage. These two crimes accounted for over 95% of the crime related settlements handled by AXA Insurance in the last quarter of 2004. The most expensive criminal business insurance claim is arson, with some instances costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. Whilst arson attacks remain rare, accounting for 3% of all crime related incidences settled, they account for over one-third of the total settlement amount.

 Type  % of all Crime Related Claims  % of all Crime Related Claims Made
Arson  33.59%  3.19%
Forcible / Violent Entry / Exit  0.42%  0.42%
Goods in Transit  0.04%  0.14%
Malicious Damage 16.71% 28.96%
Money / Hold Up 0.01% 0.02%
Money (non-forcible) 0.2% 0.32%
Theft 49.03% 66.95%

Neil Mercier, property insurance manager at AXA, said:- "We have seen a sharp increase in the number of claims settled at the end of last year; one of the reasons for this could be because many business premises shut-down over the Christmas period making them easier targets. However, business owners must remain vigilant at all times and take precautions to safeguard their premises and employees. Our website offers free advice to businesses on a range of issues including how to protect themselves from criminal activity."

Professor Martin Gill, Perpetuity Research & Consultancy International, Leicester University said:- "Despite evidence that the public think that sanctions should be more punitive it is clear that businesses need to do more to help themselves. Proper risk assessments are key, malicious damage is common but not so costly, arson is rare but very expensive and inconvenient, they need appropriate but mostly different responses and businesses need to recognise that problems can be tackled by focussed and co-ordinated action. The AXA figures remind us that crime regularly and directly impacts the business sector."

Commenting on the results of AXA's latest Business Crime Index, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:- "Crime remains a very real problem for businesses the length and breadth of the country. Business crime is not a 'victimless' crime; it undermines staff morale and distracts employers from the essential task of running their business. Our members tell us that a faster police response would be the most effective way of reducing business crime. It is time that all police forces were required to record incidences of business crime so that their performance in tackling the issue can be properly measured."

UK business crime by city

Nottingham experienced a small increase in the percentage of claims resulting from crime in Q4, and remains at the top of the business city crime table. 26.9% of all AXA business claims settled in that city during the last three months of 2004 were crime related. Bradford 26.7%, Leeds 25% and Bath 22.9% follow Nottingham. Middlesbrough remains the city with the lowest percentage of crime related business insurance claims settled over this period. 

 City  % of all claims in the area  % Change Q3 2004 to Q4 2004
Nottingham 26.9% 0.2%
Bradford 26.7% 33.6%
Leeds 25.0% 9.2%
Bath 22.9% 6.7%
Norwich 22.5% 8.9%
Ipswich 22.1% 46.7%
Liverpool 22.1% 58.2%
Leicester 21.9% 23.0%
Derby 20.9% -2.6%
Birmingham 20.7% -5.7%
Cardiff 20.3% 8.6%
Manchester 20.1% 27.0%
Edinburgh 18.7% -3.2%
London 17.8% -12.8%
Glasgow 17.0% -10.4%
Bristol 16.1% -19.0%
Newcastle 14.8% 11.6%
Middlesbrough 14.0% 8.4%

AXA offers a free crime prevention toolkit designed to help businesses protect themselves against criminal activity. The AXA Business Security Blueprint provides best practice advice on everything from securing windows and doors to CCTV and fire suppression systems. It can be downloaded free of charge from


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