Category Archives: FAQs

Why Do Masks Make Hearing So Difficult?

One of the biggest changes that has occurred due to COVID -19 has been the need to wear a mask when in public. The positive side to wearing a mask is the proven decrease in transmission of COVID-19. The downside? The inability to read lips and watch the facial expressions of those around us. Many people have reported that their hearing has worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. While it’s certainly possible that a person’s hearing can decrease over time, what may also be happening is the sudden inability to lip read.

Most people use facial cues to understand spoken language but those with even mild hearing loss rely on watching peoples’ mouths to help “fill in the blanks” in conversation. This skill is even more helpful when in a noisy environment and the background noise drowns out speech. You may not have realized how helpful lip reading can be or how often you use it until it is no longer available.

The brain utilizes several pieces of information to understand speech. A large portion is from the hearing system but it also gathers information from the context of the conversation and from visual cues, or lip reading. The masks effectively remove one of these pieces of information which forces you to rely more heavily on your hearing and the context. For those with hearing loss the brain is left with even fewer pieces of information to understand speech.

Hearing aids can help amplify speech to make it easier to understand what others are saying but it will not alleviate the difficulty associated with the inability to watch people’s mouths. Just keep in mind that the use of masks is temporary and once you have access to lip reading again, in combination with hearing aids, you will be able to more easily talk with friends and family.

For more information call our office at 904-399-0350 to schedule a hearing evaluation.

Rock Concerts and Hearing Loss

A small study by the House Research Institute revealed that 72% of teens reported reduced hearing after attending a three-hour show. This type of hearing loss typically disappears within 48 hours, but if it occurs repeatedly, permanent hearing loss can develop, the study authors noted.

Read the Full Story Here


Audiology Credentials…what do all those letters mean?!

Patients are often confused by the series of acronyms and abbreviations listed after their audiologist’s name. Listed below are common abbreviations used and a description of what they mean.

  • Au.D.: Au.D. is the abbreviation for Doctor of Audiology. Beginning in 2007, many states adopted the Au.D. as the entry level degree required to practice Audiology. Prior to the Au.D., a master’s degree was required for clinical practice. There are no longer any professional training programs offering a master’s degree in Audiology. To obtain an Au.D., you must obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete four years of graduate school.
  • CCC-A: CCC-A stands for Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology. This is a voluntary certificate issued by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). Professionals who have been awarded the CCC-A have completed a rigorous academic program and a supervised clinical experience and have passed a national examination.
  • F-AAA: F-AAA is the abbreviation used to delineate those audiologists who are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology. The American Academy of Audiology is the world’s largest professional organization of, by, and for audiologists. The active membership of more than 11,000 is dedicated to providing quality hearing care services through professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders.
  • ABA: If an audiologist uses the abbreviation “ABA” after their name, they have been awarded board certification in Audiology by the American Board of Audiology. To become board certified in audiology, one must maintain continuing education credits above and beyond what is simply required for clinical practice. ABA certification demonstrates a commitment to excellence through lifelong learning.

At JHBI, all of our audiologists have their CCC-A, are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology, and are board certified in Audiology by the American Board of Audiology. When you visit our office Audiology care, rest assured that you will be seen by a professional with extensive training who has demonstrated a commitment to maintaining the highest levels of professional competency.

Ringing in the Ears

We’ve all had it at one time or another–that sound of ringing in your ears—that can range from subtle to shattering.  Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tuss) is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears when there is actually no external sound present.  It can come and go or be constant, and causes vary.

Common causes of tinnitus:

  • Hearing loss.   Whether age-related or caused by exposure to loud sound, hearing loss can cause tinnitus.  Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away.
  • Earwax blockage. When too much earwax builds up, it can cause hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum, which can lead to tinnitus.
  • Ear bone changes. Stiffening of the bones in your middle ear may affect your hearing and cause tinnitus. This condition tends to run in families.

Less common causes include:

  • Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder
  • Stress and depression are often associated with tinnitus and seem to aggravate it.
  • TMJ disorders are problems with the temperomandibular joint –where your lower jawbone meets your skull.
  • Ear or sinus infections, but once the infection is healed the tinnitus goes away.
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumor in your brain

Some medications will trigger tinnitus as a side effect.  Fortunately, it usually disappears when you stop using these drugs.

  • Antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, erythromycin, gentamicin, vancomycin and bleomycin
  • Cancer medications, including mechlorethamine and vincristine
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Quinine and Chloroquine, taken for malaria
  • Aspirin in very high doses (12 or more a day)

Get Started With Hearing Aids

It’s so gradual that you may not even realize you have hearing loss.  You begin to strain to hear loved ones and avoid noisy restaurants.  Not only does your hearing deteriorate, but also your lifestyle, relationships, and general psychological well-being. The sooner you begin treatment for hearing loss, the easier it will be to adjust to hearing aids and to retain some hearing ability.

1.  See an audiologist

If you have noticed any symptoms of hearing loss (or your friends or family have noticed) you may be among the one in five Americans 1 suffering with this problem.  Seeing an audiologist is the first step in evaluating your hearing loss and how it may be treated.

Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute audiologists have doctoral degrees and are board certified by the American Board of Audiology. They specialize in fitting hearing aids and work with patients and physicians to create effective hearing solutions.  Our Hearing Center is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated exclusively to serving our hearing aid and cochlear implant patients.

2.  Get educated

Being informed about your hearing health and the many treatment options available is essential.  Web searches, books, and consulting friends and family are an important part of the learning process.  Besides the professional and personal one-on-one assistance of our team members, we also provide a number of resources that can help you determine the best hearing solution for you and your lifestyle.

3.  Take charge of your hearing

Hearing aids come in many styles and have various features.  Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute team members listen to individual needs and lifestyle when determining the right hearing aid for you.  Things to consider include:

  • Type of hearing loss
  • Severity of hearing loss
  • Size and shape of the ear and ear canal
  • Patient preference
  • Patient dexterity
  • Financial investment

Don’t miss out another minute!  Contact us to set up a hearing consultation or come into our new Hearing Center on Thursdays in May for a free hearing screening!

1 According to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers, published in Nov. 14, 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine

Hearing Loop Makes Headlines

In a world filled with new technology, hearing loops bring old technology back to life. The Washington Post reported that this “old technology could have the most profound impact in the decade to come on millions of people with hearing loss.” (The Washington Post) Telecoils were first put in hearing aids in the 1940s, and hearing loops were used in the 1960s and 1970s.

However, two challenges arise from the returning use of this old technology. First, a user’s hearing device must be equipped with a telecoil in order for the person to benefit from the hearing loop. Telecoils are common but not universal. Second, public areas have to be “looped,” but in the United States, very few are.

In Jacksonville, Fla., the only places currently looped (of which we are aware) are our waiting rooms at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute and one check-out lane at Whole Foods Market in Mandarin.

The Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Academy of Audiology are encouraging performance venues to install temporary loop systems to let people try them out.

Getting “In the Loop”

Many patients have been pleased to learn about the addition of a hearing loop to our waiting rooms. We have received positive feedback from patients who are delighted to find that they can take advantage of this technology.

Hearing loops are devices that transmit sound from microphones, loudspeakers or even TVs directly to portable receivers (such as hearing aids, cochlear implants or headsets). The loops rely on tiny technology in the portable receiver called a telecoil, which acts like an antenna relaying sounds directly into the ear. The advantage of this system is due to an improved signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio. Because the signal of interest (e.g., TV, microphone) is delivered directly to the hearing aid, interference from background noise is significantly reduced. Improving hearing in the presence of background noise is one of the biggest challenges in the rehabilitation of hearing impaired patients. Telecoil systems are one way to effectively improve hearing in this environment in a cost-effective, easy to use manner.

At this time, we are only aware of one other hearing loop installed in Jacksonville- at a check-out register at Whole Foods in Mandarin.

Here are some FAQs from the Hearing Loss Association of America:

1. Why are hearing loops needed? Don’t hearing aids enable hearing?

Today’s digital hearing aids effectively enhance hearing in conversational settings. Yet for many people with hearing loss the sound becomes unclear when auditorium or TV loudspeakers are at a distance, when the context is noisy, or when room acoustics reverberate sound. A hearing loop magnetically transfers the microphone or TV sound signal to hearing aids and cochlear implants with a tiny, inexpensive “telecoil” receiver. This transforms the instruments into in-the-ear loudspeakers that deliver sound customized for one’s own hearing loss. View a demonstration here.

2. How many hearing aids have a telecoil for receiving hearing loop input?

Hearing Review (April, 2008) reported almost two-thirds of hearing aids sold now include a telecoil, up from 37 percent in 2001.  In its 2009 reviews of hearing aid models, the Hearing Review Products showed that most hearing aids—including all 35 in-the-ear models—now come with telecoils, as do newer cochlear implants.

3. Can hearing loops serve those without telecoils or without hearing aids?

Yes, all forms of assistive listening, including hearing loops, come with portable receivers and headsets (though most of these type units go unused).

4. What does a hearing loop cost?

Costs range from $100 to $300 for self-installed home TV room loops up to several thousand dollars for professional installation in an average-sized auditorium or worship space. Most churches can install a hearing loop for little or no more than the cost of one pair of high end hearing aids, though a large facility with embedded metal will be more expensive.

This is the emblem displayed at locations which have a hearing loop installed:

Recent Hearing Loss Statistics

Research on hearing loss indicates:

  • 10% of all Americans have some hearing loss
  • 14% of American adults have “a little trouble hearing”
  • 3.4% of American adults have “a lot of trouble hearing” or are deaf
  • 30% of all people over the age of 65 have hearing loss
  • 65% of all people over the age of 85 have hearing loss
  • Over 75% of people with hearing loss lost their hearing after the age of 19
  • 50% of people with hearing loss are of working age (18 – 64)
  • 83 out of every 1000 children in the United States have an educationally significant hearing loss
  • 3 of every 1000 babies born in the United States has a hearing loss
  • 75% of people who could benefit from hearing aids are not using them

Gallaudet Research Institute

National Center for Health Statistics

The information and reference materials included on this website are intended solely for the general information and education purposes of the reader. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or to diagnose health problems. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to discuss the information presented here.

How To Get the Best Results From Your Hearing Aid

The best way to achieve maximum benefit with hearing aids is to wear them whenever you’re awake, not just when you think you ‘need to hear’.  Those who wear them inconsistently don’t hear as well in different listening situations as those who wear them all the time.

Using your hearing aid only occasionally just sets you up for unnecessary frustration.  Adjusting to the different quality of sound you will hear takes time and practice.  Think of it like your golf or tennis swing—if you only play every now and then, you’ll be out of practice and won’t enjoy the experience.  Your clubs, your racket or your hearing aids will get tossed in the closet.  The more you practice, whether on the course, the court or in listening with your hearing aid, the better you’ll perform and the more satisfied you’ll be.

The information and reference materials included on this website are intended solely for the general information and education purposes of the reader. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or to diagnose health problems. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to discuss the information presented here.

Spotlight: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Got vertigo?  Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (or BPPV) is one of the most common causes of the disorienting sensation of spinning or whirling.   It is caused by a disorder of the balance center of the inner ear; specifically the displacement of the calcium carbonate crystals that are normally found there.  These crystals play an important role in sensing various head movements.  When they become dislodged from their normal location, they cause abnormal irritation. With subsequent head movements, such as rolling over in bed or looking upwards, these “relocated” crystals will bring on feelings of vertigo.

Treatment for BPPV involves specialized positioning maneuvers, called the ‘Epley’ procedure, that are done in the office.  These can be effective in up to 80% of cases and are very well-tolerated. In rare situations, surgery may be required to help stop repeated episodes of positional vertigo.

BPPV is extremely common in people over 50.  The precise cause is usually not known, but degenerative changes in the inner ear are one possible explanation. BPPV will commonly occur in patients that have sustained a head injury, or in those who have suffered from a viral inner ear infection, such as vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis.

The information and reference materials included on this website are intended solely for the general information and education purposes of the reader. They are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or to diagnose health problems. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to discuss the information presented here.