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October is National Protect Your Hearing Month!

This October is National Protect Your Hearing Month!

Over 12 million Americans have hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise, or noise-induced hearing loss. The audiologists here at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute as well as audiologists across the country are encouraging individuals to protect their hearing by:

  • Wearing hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85dB for 30 minutes or more.
  • Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones.
  • Walking away from loud noise.

How Does NIHL Occur?

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the microscopic hair cells which are found in the inner ear. They are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot be repaired or grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.

How Loud is Too Loud?

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise over 85 dB, such as concerts, sporting events, lawnmowers, fireworks, MP3 players at full volume, and more. A brief exposure to a very intense sound, such as a gun shot near the ear, can also damage your hearing.

An environment is too loud and considered dangerous if you:

  • Have to shout over background noise to be heard.
  • It is painful to your ears.
  • It makes your ears ring during and after exposure.

If you have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure, that is a sign of a temporary change in hearing, which can possibly lead to permanent hearing damage.

What Kind of Hearing Protection Does JHBI Offer?

To prevent noise induced hearing loss, the Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance offers a wide range of hearing protection devices that are custom-made to fit the unique curvature of an individual’s ear. These devices attenuate loud sounds and can be used in any environment that can potentially damage hearing sensitivity; from concerts, to sporting events, and even to the firing range.

If you are interested in meeting with an audiologist to discuss custom hearting protection options to fit your lifestyle, contact the Hearing Center at 904-399-0350 to make an appointment.

Sudden Hearing Loss: An Audiological Emergency

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL)

A rapid decline in hearing that occurs all at once or over the course of several hours  and should be treated as a medical emergency.

SSNHL most often occurs in one ear and may be accompanied by a feeling of fullness and ringing (tinnitus) in the affected ear as well as a room-spinning sensation (vertigo). Some individuals report hearing a loud “pop”. The hearing loss may be noticed first thing in the morning upon waking or when holding a telephone up to the affected ear. Other indications of a SSNHL include difficulty with understanding conversation in noisy environments and/or difficulty hearing sounds directed at the affected ear. In some cases voices may sound “fuzzy” or distorted.

It is estimated that the incidence of SSNHL is 20 cases per 100,000 persons a year. Both men and women are affected equally. SSNHL can occur across the lifespan however, there is a higher incidence for individuals in their 40s and 50s.

Causes

There are many possible causes of SSNHL however, cause is only identified in about 15 % of cases. Many times the reason remains unknown. Some causes of SSNHL include, viral infections, autoimmune disease, ototoxic (toxic to the inner ear) medications, trauma and compromise of blood circulation to the inner ear.

 

Treatment

Treatment for SSNHL should be sought immediately. There is a high chance of recovery of hearing with prompt treatment. Unfortunately, many things can delay a person from seeking treatment. Symptoms of SSNHL are often thought to be related to allergies, a sinus infection or wax build up which can also result in a feeling of fullness in the ear and muffled hearing. In most cases the aforementioned will not be accompanied by tinnitus or vertigo and will likely affect both ears (unlike the typical presentation of SSNHL).

If a SSNHL is suspected it is very important to have an evaluation performed as soon as possible by a medical professional who specializes in disorders of the ear such as an otologist or otolaryngologist. Case history information, physical examination and results from a hearing evaluation completed by an audiologist will help confirm a SSNHL. Often times an MRI and blood work will be ordered to help determine the cause of the SSNHL.  Treatment most commonly includes a course of corticosteroids given either in pill form and/or as an injection into the middle ear space.

In 30 to 60% of SSNHL cases spontaneous recovery of some or all of the hearing may occur within fourteen days of onset. In many cases however, the hearing does not recover on its own. The chance of partial to total recovery of hearing is high if treatment is received within ten days after onset, with the highest chance of recovery being when treatment is received within 72 hours of onset. In cases where treatment is delayed more than two to four weeks after onset, the chance of recovery is low and often times the hearing loss is irreversible.

If you experience a sudden change in hearing in one ear, which may or may not be accompanied by fullness, tinnitus and vertigo, please seek medical care immediately.

Basic Hearing Aid Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting guide

Are you having issues with your hearing aids? Here are some common hearing aid issues, solutions, and troubleshooting steps you can take at home.

ISSUE POSSIBLE CAUSE POSSIBLE SOLUTION
HEARING AID IS DEAD OR NOT WORKING Dead, run down, or wrong type of battery. Replace battery.
Eartip plugged with wax. Change wax guard and / or dome.

Use brush to remove excess ear wax.

WORKING,

BUT IRREGULAR

Dead, run down, or wrong type of battery. Replace battery.
Battery leakage or corroded battery contacts. Discard the battery and wipe the gold terminals carefully with cloth or Q-tip to remove loose powder.
WHISTLES, CONTINUOUSLY OR OCCASIONALLY Earmold or dome is not seated properly in ear. Remove earmold and replace in ear, looking in mirror to check placement.
Earmold or dome fits loosely in ear. Make and appointment to have a new earmold made.
Tubing of earmold not connected, loose, brittle, or cracked. Bring the problem to the attention of the audiologist. The tubing may need to be replaced.
Ear wax or obstruction in canal. Schedule an appointment with the audiologist.
POOR SOUND QUALITY Change in hearing sensitivity. Schedule an appointment with the audiologist to obtain an updated hearing test.
Eartip plugged with wax. Change wax guard and / or dome. Use brush to remove excess ear wax.
Ear wax or obstruction in canal. Schedule an appointment with the audiologist.

Remember that the Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute holds a walk-in clinic for our patients on Tuesdays (10:00 am – 11:30 am) and Thursdays (1:00 pm to 2:30 pm) to help with general hearing aid care, use, and troubleshooting. No appointment is necessary to participate in walk-in clinic.

If you’re still having issues with you hearing aids, call our clinic and make an appointment to see your hearing aid audiologist.