Category Archives: Hearing Loss

Spotlight: Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

What is sudden sensorineural hearing loss?
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a term used to describe hearing loss that develops over a very short period of time. Sensorineural hearing loss generally implies damage to the structures of the inner ear or hearing nerve. While there are many possible causes of sudden sensorineural hearing loss, in most cases, the cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms of sudden sensorineural hearing loss?
In addition to a sudden drop in hearing (which can occur in a brief instant or over a period of hours), patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss may experience ringing or noise within the ear and some sense of dizziness or imbalance. The presence of any additional neurologic symptoms (such as slurring of speech, confusion, or weakness of the face, arms or legs), although rare, would suggest that a brain stroke might be occurring and would require immediate evaluation at a hospital.

How is sudden sensorineural hearing loss evaluated?
Patients who experience a sudden drop in hearing should be seen immediately, preferably by an ENT physician or Neurotologist, and a complete hearing test should be performed to determine the extent of the hearing loss. Additional tests, including imaging studies such as an MRI, may be required. Oftentimes, patients attribute their ‘clogged ear’ to a cold or allergies. However, if there is any question of a sudden drop in hearing, it is better to have it checked as soon as possible.

What treatments are available?
Treatment is often available, usually in the form of steroid medications, and is much more effective if provided as close in time as possible to the sudden drop in hearing. In addition to oral medication, medication delivered directly into the middle ear (through the ear drum) may be helpful.

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.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

An estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to Alzheimer’s Association, causing problems with behavior, memory and thinking for those afflicted with this condition. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

Studies have shown that hearing impairment in older adults is correlated with the progression of dementia. During the month of November, the Better Hearing Institute along with hearing health professionals around the country is raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have questions about your own hearing or the hearing of a loved one, call our office today at 904-399-0350 or read about our hearing consultations. If you are a caregiver for someone living with the disease, read the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Caregiving Advice for some helpful advice.


Association Between Alzheimer’s Disease & Hearing Health

According to the Better Hearing Institute, older adults with hearing loss also appear more likely to develop dementia. As hearing loss becomes more severe, their risk increases. Researchers who conducted a study published in the Archives of Neurology found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s particularly increased with hearing loss.

“There is strong evidence that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, Better Hearing Institute’s Executive Director. “Unmanaged hearing loss can interrupt the cognitive processing of spoken language and sound, exhaust cognitive reserve, and lead to social isolation—regardless of other coexisting conditions. But when an individual has both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer’s, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the hearing loss had been addressed.”

Research has also shown that using hearing aids in addition to other appropriate rehabilitation treatments can help reduce symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any Alzheimer’s diagnosis and any hearing loss should be addressed,” says Kochkin. “Most hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids. By addressing hearing loss, we can help improve quality-of-life for people with Alzheimer’s so they can live as fully as possible. These individual’s—and their families and caregivers—face many challenges. Untreated hearing loss shouldn’t have to be one of them.”

If you would like to schedule an appointment at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute to discuss your hearing health, please call 904-399-0350.

What to Expect From a New Hearing Aid

Audiologists from JHBI recommend thorough research, consistent practice and patience

For those with hearing loss, the proper use of a hearing aid can allow easier participation in the most basic daily activities. Hearing aids do not restore totally normal hearing, but with patience and practice they can make communication much easier for you as well as for your friends and family.

Learning to wear a hearing aid requires a period of adjustment. The length of adjustment depends on a number of factors, including how long a you have had hearing loss, how much loss has occurred, and how willing you are to make the necessary effort in order to succeed.

Here are a few things to remember about a new hearing aid:

  • It’s ok to ask people to repeat themselves.
  • There might be some slight tenderness in the ear and/or ear canal at first. This should go away, but if any soreness, redness or scabbing persists, report it to your doctor.
  • Speak normally. It does not sound different to other people, even though it sounds amplified in your head.
  • Wear the hearing aid as much as is comfortable. Gradually increase the wearing time, and by the end of two or three weeks, the hearing aid should be wearable for eight to ten hours per day.

Find a trustworthy, knowledgeable person to fit and maintain a hearing aid that is a good brand, price and fit. New technology allows the hearing aid to monitor the environment and automatically adjust according to your hearing loss and listening needs. At Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute, our audiologists will ensure that you receive quality care and treatment.

And the Winner of Our Hearing Aids Contest Is…

…Sara Clark! Congratulations on winning a set of premium hearing aids!

Scarlett fever damaged her hearing at two years of age. Even though Sara Clark, 46, has been wearing hearing aids for over 30 years, the brand quality has never been strong enough to compensate for her hearing loss. So when Clark heard about JHBI’s hearing aid contest on WOKV radio in June, she called in right away. And as winner of the contest, Clark received a set of premium hearing aids.

“I am very excited about the wireless technology with these,” she said. “I am a project manager in an environment that is varied in noise levels. Being able to hear important details about my projects is critical.”

Clark also received a free hearing aid consultation, which was offered to all contest participants.

“People need to hear to work and function in life,” she said. “It’s the little things one doesn’t hear that can become very big things.”

Spotlight: Otosclerosis

What is otosclerosis?
Otosclerosis is a bone disorder that affects the ear. It is the most common cause of conductive hearing loss in adults.

How does otosclerosis cause hearing loss?
Otosclerosis causes stiffening of the stirrup bone (stapes) so that it does not move properly. In some circumstances, otosclerosis may cause damage to the inner ear, leading to nerve-related hearing loss.

What are the symptoms of otosclerosis?
Hearing loss is the most common symptom associated with otosclerosis. Additionally, some patients may experience tinnitus (head noise or ringing in the ears) and rarely, dizziness.

What treatments are available for otosclerosis?
Depending upon the severity of symptoms and the precise nature of the hearing loss, patients with otosclerosis may elect observation (no treatment), use of a hearing aid, or a surgical procedure to improve the hearing (stapedectomy/stapedotomy).

What is involved in a stapedectomy/stapedomoty procedure?
This outpatient procedure involves lifting up the eardrum and removing a portion of the stirrup bone. A prosthetic ear bone is used to reconnect the hearing mechanism and bypass the area of fixation.

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.

Spotlight: Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

What is superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome?
Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (or SSCDS) is a condition where the normal bony covering of the superior semicircular canal (one of the three balance canals that respond to angular acceleration) is missing. This essentially results in direct contact between the covering of the brain and the lining of this superior balance canal.

What type of symptoms do patients with SSCDS have?
Many, but not all, patients with SSCDS have dizziness. This dizziness may be brought on by loud noises, such as the clanging of dishes together, or by pressure changes, such as sneezing, coughing, or straining. Some patients report hearing their heartbeat in the affected ear and often complain of ear fullness. Many patients describe that their voice sounds louder in one particular ear as well. Other less common symptoms include hearing one’s own eye movements and hearing one’s own footsteps on certain surfaces (watch this video: Inside Todd’s Head).

What causes SSCDS?
Currently the exact cause of SSCDS is not known. It is likely that some individuals are predisposed to the thinning of bone in certain areas of the skull base, leading to problems such as SSCDS. Additionally, head trauma may play a role in certain cases of SSCDS. Not all individuals with a dehiscence of the superior semicircular canal (as might be seen on a special CAT scan and verified by certain tests) actually have symptoms.

How is SSCDS treated?
SSCDS treatment must be individualized to each particular patient. While there is no specific medical therapy for SSCDS, various surgical management options are available.

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.

Patient Testimonial: Cochlear implant saves a deaf & blind man’s hearing

At 25 years old, a brain tumor in the front left of Douglas LaFayette’s brain created optic nerve problems and eventually stole away his eyesight. Over the next several years, LaFayette experienced more tumors in his brain and ears. Eventually, he lost hearing because of a tumor. In June 2009, he woke up deaf.

“I thought I was going to lose my mind,” LaFayette said. “It’s like I was trapped in my body.”

LaFayette, 49, experienced sudden hearing loss in his left ear and lost hearing in his right progressively. LaFayette spent close to a year and a half almost completely blind and deaf. His wife, Janice, had to spell out letters on his hand to communicate. Before hearing about the option of cochlear implants at JHBI, the LaFayette family thought Douglas would be deaf for the rest of his life.

Douglas and his son, Nathaniel

“It’d take an hour to get a five-word sentence across,” Janice said. “He couldn’t write anything because he couldn’t see it. You get to a point where you have grieved the death of that relationship. And then you grieve over what could have been done if all the options had been known. He was trapped and we couldn’t communicate.”

In October 2010, LaFayette underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant on his left ear. Eventually, he wants to get one in his right as well.

“People really need to know about cochlear implants,” LaFayette said. “I was told too much damage was already done. But I can hear now with my cochlear.”

Everything is different now for the LaFayette family. Douglas can converse on the phone with family he could not speak to for a year and hear his son laughing as he plays.

“It was very hard on a family and trying to raise a child as well,” LaFayette said. “But the best part is being able to hear all the words. Being able to hear ‘I love you’ from my wife. That’s the really cool part, being able to talk on the phone to my family.”

Patient Testimonial: How a Man Kept His Job

A man with a bad cold he just couldn’t shake woke up one morning, answered his cell phone, and realized he was deaf. With 12 percent hearing in his left ear and 78 percent in his right, Leon Woody, 52, knew he would have to do something quickly to maintain his management position at work.

“When I answered my cell phone that morning, I thought I had a bad connection,” Woody said. “Then I realized it was my left ear, not a bad connection. I went to a lot of doctors and they all said they couldn’t do anything for me.”

But Woody came to Dr. Green at JHBI in hopes that there was still a remedy. Dr. Green performed surgery to give Woody a cochlear implant in each ear. It has been three years and Woody cannot say enough about the “amazing instruments” in his ear.

“I couldn’t do it without them. It took a while, but now I can get back in front of groups. I challenged myself to get in front of people and communicate. Without the hearing aids, I couldn’t be working. I don’t know what would have happened.”

After receiving an internal cochlear implant, a patient wears external speech processors. Woody said that if he is not wearing the processors, he cannot hear anything at all. His co-workers do not understand that he truly cannot hear without them. To get his ears used to hearing noises again and understanding pitch and tone, Woody practiced listening to books on tape and music on the radio.

“I can’t say enough about the staff. They’ve done an excellent job working through the issues and making my wife and I feel comfortable and understanding the process.”

Our professional staff is here to help with hearing loss diagnosis and treatment every step of the way.

JHBI Grants Hearing to a Nigerian Professor

For more than 32 years, a mathematics professor in Nigeria had normal hearing. But after three weeks of fever and medication, his hearing became so bad that he could hardly hear a gunshot.

In 2002, Stephen Yaukubu Kutchin woke up one morning with most of his hearing ability gone. A mathematics professor at the University of Jos in Nigeria, Kutchin spent more than five years with limited hearing ability. He frequently asked people to write what they were saying to him and had several uncomfortable encounters with people who did not understand how to interact with a hearing-impaired person. His partial deafness severely limited his ability to teach his classes in a timely matter.

“My social life suffered immensely; I had to stop attending meetings or social gatherings,” Kutchin recalled. “Radio and musical instruments became useless to me. I had to lose many of my friends. Some of them were those who couldn’t write. There was no way for me to communicate directly to those that could not write. Those included the small children. There was no way I could communicate with even sighted people once it was dark. The worst were my students and friends who were blind. I had to keep away from any function that had anything to do with hearing.”

Dr. Green met Kutchin in 2005 through Dr. Joel Anthis, an American ear, nose and throat physician who was working full-time in a Christian missionary hospital in Jos, Nigeria. Dr. Green brought two cochlear implant systems to Nigeria, fitted Kutchin with an implant, and left him in the care of Dr. Anthis.

“Humanly speaking and going by my income; there was no wisdom for me to even dream of ever having such a surgery,” Kutchin said.

However, the wound did not heal properly and the implant was removed. Back at square one, Kutchin thought it was the end of the road for good. But a year later, Dr. Green again traveled to Nigeria and offered Kutchin the chance to visit Jacksonville, Fla., and have cochlear implant surgery free of charge. Kutchin gratefully accepted and spent his time in the United States as a guest of Dr. Green and his family during his period of medical assessments, surgery and healing.

Before the implant surgery, Kutchin suffered from tinnitus, a continuous ringing in the ears. It often spoiled his days and woke him from his sleep. Now back in Nigeria, Kutchin said both his sound perception and speech perception are remarkable.

“My cochlear implantation system has continued to amaze me,” Kutchin stated. “With the device, my sound perception is more than 100 percent normal. The volume of the speech processor can be regulated so I am able to hear sound as audible as I choose to.”

Dr. Green made Kutchin’s visit to the States memorable and allowed him to become part of his family.

“He did so to celebrate the recovery of my hearing since my family could not be around to celebrate with me this life changing event,” Kutchin remarked. “Dr. Green wishes to do more.”

To read the full report written by Stephen Yaukubu Kutchin, please click here.

For information about Hearing Help for Africa, a non-profit organization with the goal of improving ear-related medical conditions for Africans by expanding medical education opportunities for African physicians, please click here.