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Vertigo in the Headlines

File:Stephen Colbert at Montclair Film 2017 (1).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert announced recently that he has been diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). He reported that when he would stand up from a seated position, everything began to spin and subsequently he would fall or sit down. This particular type of vertigo is characterized by the sensation of either yourself or the world around you spinning, and lasting for a few seconds to a few minutes. It is typically brought on by head movements such as rising from a seated position, moving you head in a certain direction, or rolling over in bed.

Symptoms associated with BPPV are imbalance, nausea/vomiting, and visual changes such as objects seeming to jump or moving side to side. Possible causes can include head injury, ear surgery, migraine headaches, transient ischemic attacks or stroke, a growth inside the ear, or a virus within the ear.

BPPV can usually be corrected with special positioning treatments done in the office and exercises at home. However, it is important not to assume that all vertigo is BPPV and to make sure any causes aside from the inner ear are ruled out first. Contact your primary care physician if you begin to experience dizziness. Once cleared, they will then refer you to a hearing and balance specialist to help determine the cause of vertigo and develop the next steps to help correct it.

Noisy Toys and How to Protect your Children’s Ears

It’s finally the holiday season and everyone is excited for good food, (socially distant) gatherings, and presents, unless that is, you have young children with noisy toys constantly playing throughout your house. Although most parents can attest to how loud their children’s toys are, you may not know just EXACTLY how loud. 

The Arizona Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) and the Sight and Hearing Association are two of many organizations that put out an annual list of noisy toys for the holiday season. There are toys on their list that have been tested and shown to have an output of 103 dB! Measurements were taken as if a child had their ear next to the speaker, which is very realistic as anyone with young children would know.  According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association and the American Academy of Audiology, 85 dB is the loudest that a child should be exposure to.  For reference, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that exposure to 90 dB for 8 hours a day is considered a “permissible noise exposure”.  The permissible time of exposure for a 100 dB sound is only 2 hours. Many of theses toys are actually labeled as educational toys.

Here are some tips for testing to see if toys are too loud:

  • Test the toys prior to buying. Many toys have a “TRY ME” button
  • Hold the toy relatively close to your own ear and see if you think it is too loud

Ways to Reduce Volume

  • If there is a volume control, make sure it is set at the lowest volume
  • Put waterproof tape or glue over the speaker to dampen the sound
  • Put tape over the volume control to prevent your child from changing the volume.

The below list was organized by The Arizona Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH):

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.