Monthly Archives: August 2021

How Does Sound Therapy Help My Tinnitus?

Key Concepts of Sound Therapy:

  1. The sound must be relaxing and pleasing to the listener
  2. The sound should be non-significant (nature sounds or white noise)—music with or without vocals has a pattern that tends to draw the brain’s attention which prevents habituation
  3. The sound must be played a volume level softer than the tinnitus—the brain cannot habituate to something it cannot hear

Sound therapy is used in all tinnitus management strategies to help habituate our brains to the presence of tinnitus. When tinnitus becomes noticeable and annoying, our brains tend to perseverate on the sound and pushes us into fight or flight mode, which ultimately makes our tinnitus more bothersome and heightens the fight or flight response further. This cycle often continues into a downward spiral. One of the best ways to stop the cycle is to teach our brain the tinnitus is non-threatening. For example, if you moved into a new house that backs up to the railroad tracks, your first few nights of sleep are going to be interrupted whenever the train passes. With more exposure, eventually your brain learns to habituate to or tune-out the train and your able to get a full night’s worth of sleep. Sound therapy works in a similar way. By providing a relaxing sound at a volume softer than the tinnitus, the brain learns to focus less on the tinnitus and begins to relax. Eventually, your brain no longer relies on the sound therapy to relax away from the tinnitus and is able to do it on its own. This process takes time, patience, and dedication but provides relief to many tinnitus patients.

If you have questions about sound therapy and other tinnitus management strategies, contact our office to schedule an evaluation.

Sporting events and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

With August comes the start of a new school year, and also the beginning of football season. While many people enjoy the atmosphere of game day, they don’t always recognize that sounds could be loud enough to damage their hearing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 40 million U.S. adults may have noise-induced hearing loss. The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. The chart below shows the average decibel levels for many common sounds.

Source: The American Academy of Audiology

As the chart shows, sporting events such as football games can reach levels of 110 decibels or more! Exposure to this level of noise over several hours can be damaging to your hearing. The Guinness world record for the loudest NFL crowd noise was set by the Kansas City Chiefs fans in 2014. The roar of the crowd was measured at an ear-shattering 142.2 decibels!

Even smaller scale sporting events can have noises loud enough to damage hearing. It’s a good idea to bring a pair of earplugs with you, just in case sounds reach loud levels. If you are concerned you may have noise-induced hearing loss, you should schedule a hearing evaluation with an audiologist to learn more about your hearing. We only get one pair of ears, so it is important to protect your hearing as much as possible.  

Simone Biles and “The Twisties”

If you have been following the Tokyo Olympics this Summer, you have likely heard about American gymnast Simone Biles suffering from a case of what she calls “the twisties,” causing her to withdraw from several Olympic events. But what exactly are “the twisties” and what does that have to do with ears? Gymnasts describe it as losing control of their body mid-trick and losing sense of where they are in the air. The sensation is not only disorienting, it’s dangerous and can lead to serious injury.

The human brain uses three sensory systems to stay upright: the vestibular (or inner ear) system, the visual system, and the somatosensory (or proprioception) system. While in motion, like when a gymnast is performing a skill, the brain receives input from these three systems and compares them to an “internal model” of what the move should feel like based on past experiences. Essentially, gymnasts and other athletes tirelessly train so that they can perform complicated movements easily and with “muscle memory”. However, in certain situations, such as the Olympics, athletes may try to compensate for increased psychological stress by trying to consciously control movements that were previously automatic. The brain then loses the ability to initiate learned motor sequencies, resulting in what we now know as “the twisties.” 

As it turns out. “the twisties” is fairly common in the sport of gymnastics, as more and more current and former athletes are speaking out about their experiences with this condition. More information on the science behind “the twisties” and Simone Biles performance at the Olympics can be found online in the coming weeks. 

Welcome to Our New Audiology Extern

My name is Isabella Hillerby and I am the JHBI Audiology Extern for the 2021-2022 year. I completed my undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Nevada, Reno in my hometown.  I attended the University of Oklahoma for my Doctorate of Audiology Program and will be graduating in May 2022.  

JHBI has been an incredible placement for me in my first few months here–I have learned so much more than I thought possible and love coming to work each day. The team here at JHBI is full of wonderful mentors, patient advocates, and kind individuals. I am grateful for the opportunity to be working with our patients over the next year through their hearing and balance healthcare journey. 

Though I miss the mountains and snowy weather from back home, Jacksonville and northeast Florida has quickly become my favorite place to live.  My free time is spent exploring Jacksonville–paddle boarding along the coastline, hiking through Hanna Park, finding new favorite local brunch places–and spending time with my new kitten! I love all activities ocean related and am looking forward to becoming scuba certified by the end of the summer. I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for me.