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Hearing Loss and the Holidays

With everything going on during the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that some people struggle during holiday get-togethers for various reasons. One recent online study shows that 50% of families will host at least one person with hearing loss at their holiday table. For these loved ones, the holidays can be isolating and frustrating, because they don’t feel included in the celebration.

Here are some suggestions to help you have a hearing-friendly holiday:

  1. Minimize background noise. Skip the holiday music or television in the background. Background noise can make it difficult to hear. Consider having rowdy football fans enjoy the game in a different room.
  2. Pay attention to seating. Seat the individual with hearing loss at the head of the dinner table or middle of the table, making it easier for them to see all the guests’ faces. Round tables enable easy viewing for everyone. When setting your table, try decorating with shorter centerpieces to avoid blocking sightlines.
  3. Rephrase, don’t repeat. Instead of repeating the same words, try rephrasing. It’s very likely when someone with hearing loss mentions they can’t hear you; they may be having trouble understanding a specific word or phrase. This approach draws less attention to the individual with hearing loss by keeping the conversation more natural. For those uneasy or self-conscious about hearing loss, this will be appreciated.
  4. Skip the mood lighting. A well-lit room helps those with hearing loss see the mouths and facial expressions of those speaking.
  5. Capture attention. Look directly at the person with hearing loss when speaking to them, so they can see your mouth and facial expressions. To get their attention, gently touch them on the hand, arm or shoulder, or say their name before starting to speak.
  6. Speak clearly. Be deliberate while speaking clearly. Be careful to project, but don’t shout. Keep your hands away from your face when speaking. Avoid disturbances which make following a conversation more difficult.
  7. Ask how you can help. Be respectful and discrete by taking aside the individual with hearing loss and asking if there’s anything you can do to make their visit easier. Demonstrate understanding and compassion, and you’ll be an example of the true meaning of holiday spirit.

If you’re concerned about possible hearing loss for you or a loved one, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our audiologists.

Happy Holidays from JHBI!

Everyone at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute would like to wish you a happy holidays!


See below for a message from Dr. Green!


A Former Dr. Green Patient in the News!

Congratulations Dr. Judy Nelson!

Judy Nelson, one of our physician assistants, has been a member of the Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute team since 2003. Her care and compassion is well-known by her patients. We are very proud to say that in addition to having more than 36 years of experience, she has recently completed her Doctor of Medical Science degree through the University of Lynchburg, with a specialty in Neurotology.  

Congratulations Judy Nelson, DMSc, PA-C!

Judy Nelson, MPAS, PA-C

Dr. Nelson works with patients with dizziness, vertigo, imbalance and hearing loss. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 904-399-0350.

Hearing Loss in the Time of Covid-19

Communication difficulties have increased since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic in March with the addition of masks to everyday life. A major part of the connection that we make with others depends on our facial expressions. They are universal – a smile is a smile in every culture and language. Even those who are not hard of hearing can find communicating, while wearing a cloth facemask, difficult.

Having a hearing loss makes even the easiest listening environments difficult to understand conversation. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing often rely on reading lips to communicate. Wearing a mask is one of the recommended strategies to mitigate the current global pandemic, and facemasks that cover the mouth can be a challenging and frustrating barrier. Covering the bottom part of one’s face and mouth makes communication more difficult, especially for persons who are hearing impaired or older adults.

Wearing a transparent mask that allows your mouth to be viewed is a beneficial option to allow those with a significant hearing loss to be better able to understand conversation. Clear face masks make it possible for us to communicate more effectively and maintain that human connection, while still practicing the protective measures necessary during this global pandemic.

Clear face masks can be found from many online websites such as www.Walmart.com, www.Etsy.com, and Safe’N’Clear, Inc. – The only FDA approved mask with clear window made in the USA

Advancements in Cochlear Implant Technology

An exciting new cochlear implant processor has been introduced by Cochlear Americas. A cochlear implant processor is the external component to a cochlear implant system. A cochlear implant is an implantable hearing device for individuals with significant hearing loss and reduced speech clarity. A cochlear implant can greatly improve your ability to communicate with friends and family and can lead to improved quality of life.

The new processor from Cochlear Americas, called the Kanso 2, is an off-the-ear unit that is:

  • Rechargeable
  • Able to directly connect to iPhone and Android smartphones for phone calls and music
  • Water resistant
  • Light-weight
Cochlear obtains FDA approval of Kanso 2 Sound Processor, first ...

This processor was recently FDA-approved and will be made available for newly implanted patients and current Cochlear patients eligible for upgrades starting this Fall. If you have hearing loss, poor speech clarity, and have been unsuccessful with hearing aids you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. Call Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute at 904-399-0350 for more information!

Congratulations Dr. Donna J. Smith!

Donna Smith, one of our physician assistants, has been a member of the Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute team since 2015. In addition to having 37 years of experience, she has recently completed her Doctor of Medical Science degree through the University of Lynchburg, with a specialty in Neurotology.  Congratulations Donna J. Smith, DMSc, PA-C!

Dr. Smith works with patients with hearing loss, ear infections, dizziness, vertigo and imbalance. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 904-399-0350.

Tips for Virtual Meetings & Doctors Appointment When You Have Hearing Loss

A very common complaint for people with hearing loss is hearing within background noise and distinguishing speech. Many patients rely on lip reading to help them understand the conversation and this has become a big obstacle to overcome due to the Covid-19 pandemic and masks being worn.

Virtual communications and tele-health appointments are the newest advancement in “face to face” encounters to help alleviate exposure. This is a great alternative for many to still be able to work and gain access to health care while keeping a safe distance.

People with hearing loss can experience some difficulty with this type of communication and below are some tips to help achieve a smooth appointment.

  1. Make time for introductions at the beginning of the appointment. This allows you to make sure other users can hear you, and you can hear them.
  2. Have good lighting. Sitting against a wall is preferred to achieve good lighting to highlight your face for cues. When you sit in front of a window, the back lighting hides your facial features.
  3. Don’t cover your mouth. Keep your hair, hands, and clothes away from your mouth.
  4. Wait your turn to speak and project when doing so.
  5. Mute the microphone if you are not speaking. This helps avoid ambient background noise entering the virtual room.
  6. If you have Bluetooth devices that are paired to your phone or tablet, make sure they are connected.

Remote Programming During The COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the audiologists at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute would like our patients to know that we are taking all necessary precautions and are following CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus and to keep patients and staff as safe as possible. This includes offering remote programming services for select hearing aids and cochlear implants. During a remote programming session, the audiologist can program the hearing aid or cochlear implant without having the patient come into the office, thereby keeping high-risk individuals safe at home while still having access to hearing healthcare. Programming is done in real time, which allows patients to provide immediate feedback to the audiologist during the session.

To find out if your hearing aid or cochlear implant is eligible for remote programming, or if you are interested in learning more about this technology, call the clinic at 904-399-0350 to find out more.  

Preparation Tips for Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant Users

We can’t always know when a natural disaster or other unexpected event will come our way but we can take steps to ensure that when something does happen, we are prepared.

It is normal to experience anxiety or apprehension during a natural disaster or crisis and this can be compounded by a hearing loss and the concern you may not hear announcements or alerts coming from community leaders.

It is important to prepare ahead of time to ensure your hearing aids and/or cochlear implants are in optimal condition. The following are tips to help you prepare for when the unexpected happens.

Check your battery supply.

  • Disposable batteries: it is important to have extra disposable batteries on hand in the event you cannot get to a store to purchase more. Be sure to regularly check the expiration dates especially if you purchase in bulk. Batteries have a shelf life of 2-3 years.
  • Rechargeable batteries: purchase a portable battery pack (and be sure to charge it) to be able to charge your batteries on the go or in the event the power goes out. Be sure you have more than one battery so you can always have fully charged battery on hand.

Review your equipment

  • Check the status of your equipment and ensure you have extra parts and pieces in the event your hearing aid or cochlear implant stops working and you can’t immediately get to your audiologist. Hearing aids users should take care to a supply of wax filters and domes at home to easily replace if needed. Utilize a de-humidifier to lower the risk of moisture damage. Cochlear implant users should ensure they have an extra coil and cable to swap out if necessary.

Enhance your communication

  • Utilize a captioned telephone to assist with understanding important information over the phone. Captioned applications are also available for smartphones.
  • Sign up for text or e-mail alerts when possible to ensure you receive and understand any announcements or alerts.

See your Audiologist

  • If you have enough notice, try to make an appointment with your audiologist for a clean and check of your equipment as well as re-programming to ensure you are able to hear your best.