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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.

Upcoming Mission Trip to Jos, Nigeria

On March 26th, Dr. Green and his team at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute will be taking their yearly medical mission trip to Jos, Nigeria.

Begun in 2010, Hearing Help for Africa is the brainchild of Dr. Douglas Green, his wife Kelley and Dr. Joel Anthis.  The Greens and their family made several mission trips to Lusaka, Zambia with Family Legacy Missions in the early 2000s.   They were struck by the incredible joy exhibited by the African people in the midst of extreme poverty, profound loss of the family structure due to AIDS, and the hardships imposed by governmental corruption.  Dr. Green was subsequently invited to visit Nigeria by Dr. Anthis, an American ear, nose and throat physician who was working full-time in a Christian missionary hospital in Jos, Nigeria. While there Dr. Green witnessed firsthand the scope of the need as he performed surgery and helped provide medical care for patients with ear-related problems.

***If you would like to donate old hearing aids to Hearing Help for Africa, please contact our office at 904-399-0350

Exciting Connectivity Options for Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a hearing device that is implanted in the inner ear to help restore volume and clarity of speech. They lead to better communication with friends and family when hearing aids no longer help. Recent advances in technology have even made it possible to listen on a cell phone through a cochlear implant with ease.

Cochlear
The N7 cochlear implant allows users to

  • Connect to iPhone and Android phones to wirelessly stream phone calls and music or videos.
  • Use an app to adjust volume and manipulate settings for better hearing in noisy environments.
  • Connect to the Apple Watch for seamless volume and program adjustments!


Advanced Bionics
The ‘Connect’ is a small receiver coupled to the battery of a Naida Q90 cochlear implant.

  • Connects to any Bluetooth enabled device (iPhone, Android, tablet etc) for easy, hands-free calling.
  • A button on the receiver allows the user to answer and hang up phone calls as well as start and stop music and videos.


Med El
The ‘AudioLink’ connects to the Sonnet and Rondo 2 cochlear implants.

  • Streams phone calls and music or videos from any Bluetooth enabled item.
  • Allows the user to make changes to their volume and programs for enhanced listening in various environments.


Cochlear implants can lead to better speech understanding for people who don’t benefit from hearing aids. Evolving technology allows cochlear implant users to further communicate with friends and family.

For more information regarding whether you are a cochlear implant candidate call JHBI at 904-399-0350.

The Link Between Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids & Cognitive Decline

Annual physicals are a part of all individual’s health routine however, audiological examinations should become part of this routine, particularly as we age. Hearing loss can have a gradual onset and as a result, may go unnoticed for many years. The average timeframe in which someone treats their diagnosed hearing loss is 7 years. The duration of untreated hearing loss is longer for many because it may take years for them to decide to get evaluated. Untreated hearing loss may begin to affect interpersonal relationships and those individuals may withdraw from social interactions and become depressed.

Some warning signs that may indicate an individual may need to have their hearing evaluated are:

* Ringing or buzzing in the ears
* Can hear but not understand others speaking
* Group conversations are difficult
* The TV or radio is louder than normal and others report it is too loud
* They ask others to repeat themselves
* Everyday sounds such as footsteps, humming of the refrigerator or the doorbell are no longer audible

A long term study, “Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Edlerly Adults: A 25-year Study,” compared the rate of cognitive decline among older adults who were using hearing aids to those who were not. The outcome found no difference in the rate of cognitive decline between those with no reported hearing loss (the control group) and those who had a hearing loss and were using amplification. However, it was found that those with untreated hearing loss had significantly lower baseline scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination, a well-established test of cognitive function, during the 25-year follow-up period, independent of age, gender and education.

By treating the diagnosed hearing loss with amplification, hearing aid users can experience improved communication with those around them. As a result their moods are improved, they expose themselves to more social interactions and cognitively stimulating activities. This is most likely the underlying reason for the decreased cognitive decline reported in the study.

Untreated hearing loss results in decreased ability to understand speech and increased rate of cognitive decline due to lack of neural stimulation. It is time for a new way of thinking about the importance of hearing care and hearing solutions. Annual audiological evaluations should be conducted to determine the status of individuals hearing and help prevent untreated hearing loss due to lack of diagnosis.

FDA Approves Cochlear Implantation for Single-Sided Deafness

Single-sided deafness (SSD) can create difficulties for people localizing sound and listening in the noisy situations. This can lead to negative impacts on communication and socialization. SSD can be caused by viral infections, head trauma, Meniere’s Disease, or have an unknown cause. Treatment options have been limited, with cochlear implants typically reserved for people with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

On July 22, 2019, Med-El USA, a manufacturer of cochlear implants, announced that the Food & Drug administration approved their cochlear implant for people 5 years and older with profound hearing loss in one ear and normal to mild hearing loss in the other. Research supporting the approval shows that SSD participants had improvements in speech understanding in quiet and noise, and improvements in sound localization when they obtained the cochlear implant.

Cochlear implantation still requires certain testing and considerations, but is a step forward for the treatment of single-sided hearing loss.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

May was designated as the Better Hearing and Speech Month by the American Speech-Language-Hearing  Association (ASHA)  in 1927.  The goals of Better Hearing and Speech month is to bring awareness to hearing and speech deficits, educate the population on how these issues effect the community, and empower individuals to take action if they suspect they have a speech or hearing deficit.

Hearing loss is the third most common health issue in the United States, effecting one in every eight people over the age of 12.  Difficulty communicating with others can lead individuals to be withdrawn, negatively impacting them both socially and emotionally.  The primary goal of an audiologist, when working with these patients, is to provide the tools they need to maintain an active lifestyle and minimize the effect of their hearing loss.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) developed a short questionnaire* to see if you could benefit from having your hearing evaluated by an audiologist.

NIH QUESTIONNAIRE:

  1. Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty hearing them?
  2. Do you have difficulty hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?
  3. Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
  4. Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
  5. Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?
  6. Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
  7. Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
  8. Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
  9. Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?

If you answered “YES” to three or more of above questions, feel free to contact our clinic at (904) 339-0350 to schedule an appointment with a provider.  Together you will develop an individualized plan to improve your hearing healthcare.

*Adapted from: Newman, C.W., Weinstein, B.E., Jacobson, G.P., & Hug, G.A. (1990). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults [HHIA]: Psychometric adequacy and audiometric correlates. Ear Hear, 11, 430-433.

Cochlear & Cookies!

You are invited to come by Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute to discuss cochlear implant and bone-anchored hearing aid solutions for hearing loss. Cookies and coffee will be served!


Dates: February 20th and March 6th
Time: 10:30am – 1:30pm
Talk with experts about:
– Advanced implantable hearing technology
– The Cochlear™ Nucleus® and Cochlear BAHA® Systems
– Candidacy and coverage
– Assistive listening devices and more!


RSVP to Ralyn Jelus at rjelus@cochlear.com or 404-695-8612