Every year, the Sight and Hearing Association tests a random selection of toys on the market for the holiday season. This year, they tested 24 toys, 19 of which tested louder than 85 decibels (dB). This is the level where the National Institute of Occupation Health and Safety (NIOSH) mandates hearing protection.
This year’s loudest toy is well known character from the Disney movie, Moana. This model of HeiHei, the chicken, reaches levels of 109.7 dB. The screech, which the authors described as “blood curdling” and “terrifying,” reaches a level that could cause hearing damage in a matter of minutes. Testing was also conducted at a distance equal to the average arm length of a toddler and levels still reached over 90 dB.
The Sight and Hearing Association recommends using a free sound level meter app on smartphones. Although not perfect, it will give you an idea of how loud your child’s toys are. Even easier, if you feel like the toy is too loud for you, it is too loud for your child. They also recommend checking return policies with stores. If a loud toy enters your house this holiday season, you may be able to return it, if you can get it away from your child.
Although most people tend to see audiologists after they have already started noticing hearing difficulties, audiologists also strive to educate the public on protecting their hearing. Back in July, we posted a blog about the different types of hearing protection. Many of these you can buy over the counter, but some custom-made devices need to be fit by an audiologist.
The American Academy of Audiology agrees with OSHA standards in regards to which levels of sound, and for how long, can damage your ears permanently. For instance, repeated or length exposure to sound above 85 decibels (dB) can damage hearing. Average conversation is usually around 60-65 dB, jet engines are typically around 150 dB, and those lawn mowers that people are using without hearing protection are around 85 dB, which is the level at which damage can start. Other recreational activities have high levels of sound that can damage your hearing: shooting a gun (140-175 dB depending on the firearm), concerts (can reach 120 dB), action movies in a theater (100 dB).
According to the American Academy of Audiology, there is an easy way to remember the main ways to protect your hearing: EARS.
The four main ways for protecting your hearing are:
E – earplugs
A – avoid loud sounds
R – reduce the level of sounds
S – shorten time in loud environments
If you have been exposed to this type of noise, even if it was years ago, there is a good chance you have some hearing loss. To schedule a hearing test or an appointment with one of our audiologists to discuss custom hearing protection, call our office at 904-399-0350.
Learn more from the American Academy of Audiology at audiology.org
Although COVID took a larger than expected spotlight during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, pushing the games back a full year into 2021, for audiologists, there was a special player on Team USA that caught our attention.
That player is David Smith, the 36 year old middle blocker of Team USA Men’s Volleyball. Including Tokyo, David has seen three Olympic games. With his 6-foot-7 stature, you may not be able to see, but David Smith wears hearing aids. David was born with a severe to profound hearing loss and worn hearing aids since the age of 3. He currently wears a set of Oticon Dynamo hearing aids. David’s hearing aids are powerful enough that he can hear many things, including the softer voices of his children, but he also relies heavily on lip reading, especially on the noisy volleyball court.
In a recent interview, David thanks his parents for keeping him involved in sports. He states that his hearing loss was less of a barrier in areas where he could watch and learn from others. He says “it was definitely a confidence booster”. Even as he plays overseas, he has become a role model for children with hearing loss, referencing a few children who wore his jersey at every game they attended. David hopes others with hearing loss see that they can achieve anything they want, even making it to the world’s biggest sporting event.
More information about David can be found at the links below:
If you have been following the Tokyo Olympics this Summer, you have likely heard about American gymnast Simone Biles suffering from a case of what she calls “the twisties,” causing her to withdraw from several Olympic events. But what exactly are “the twisties” and what does that have to do with ears? Gymnasts describe it as losing control of their body mid-trick and losing sense of where they are in the air. The sensation is not only disorienting, it’s dangerous and can lead to serious injury.
The human brain uses three sensory systems to stay upright: the vestibular (or inner ear) system, the visual system, and the somatosensory (or proprioception) system. While in motion, like when a gymnast is performing a skill, the brain receives input from these three systems and compares them to an “internal model” of what the move should feel like based on past experiences. Essentially, gymnasts and other athletes tirelessly train so that they can perform complicated movements easily and with “muscle memory”. However, in certain situations, such as the Olympics, athletes may try to compensate for increased psychological stress by trying to consciously control movements that were previously automatic. The brain then loses the ability to initiate learned motor sequencies, resulting in what we now know as “the twisties.”
As it turns out. “the twisties” is fairly common in the sport of gymnastics, as more and more current and former athletes are speaking out about their experiences with this condition. More information on the science behind “the twisties” and Simone Biles performance at the Olympics can be found online in the coming weeks.
At Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute we work with all three of the FDA approved cochlear implant manufacturers. One of those manufacturers, Advanced Bionics, has recently released their newest sound processor. Below you will find a video introducing the new device!
If you are interested in discussing this new technology, you can sit down and chat with an Advanced Bionics representative in our office! Reach out to Karalee Kowar at Karalee.Kowar@advancedbionics.com to reserve a spot!
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.
With the introduction of COVID-19, the world has changed in many ways. Masks are the new normal and staying six feet apart is common courtesy. Businesses are shut down or have major restrictions in place. There are many new and different ways each one of us has had to change our own lives. This includes what it is currently like to get a hearing test at JHBI. Here is an example of what to expect at your next hearing test appointment at JHBI:
Wearing a mask is mandatory throughout your entire appointment. Also, every staff member is wearing a mask at all times. This includes clear masks that many staff members have available for our patients who rely on lip-reading.
Your temperature will be taken at check-in using a no-contact thermometer.
Every patient and any person accompanying them must fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.
Seats in the waiting room are limited in order to maintain social distancing.
Higher risk patients are taken to a different waiting room- for their safety.
Our staff is cleaning constantly to ensure your safety!
As you can see, at JHBI we take the safety and well-being of our patients very seriously. We hope that you feel comfortable coming to our office and we hope to see you and your mask soon!
New hybrid hearing device helps those who find hearing aids to be ineffective
By Charlie Patton Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 4:51 pm
Traditionally there have been two approaches to hearing loss: hearing aids to amplify sound for those who retained some hearing; and cochlear implants to restore some hearing to those who are totally deaf.
A new device, a Cochlear Nucleus Hybrid Implant System, has been approved by the FDA for use in people who have some hearing but have found hearing aids ineffective.
J. Douglas Green Jr., a neurotologist and founder of the Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute/The Hearing Center, calls the device “an extraordinary melding of technologies.”
The hybrid includes three elements: an implant that Green puts in place during a 90-minute outpatient procedure; a sound processor that converts high-frequency sounds to electric signals and sends them to the implant; and an acoustic component that functions like a hearing aid, amplifying low-frequency sounds.
The cochlear implant component restores the ability of people to hear high-pitched sound.
The hybrid “gives patients a more natural sound quality,” Green said. “People really like that. There is more clarity to the sounds.”
Green will offer free seminars about the implants: a dinner presentation from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday and a lunch presentation from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hotel Indigo, 9840 Tapestry Park Circle.
While seminars are free, seating is limited and a reservation is required. Go to HearingHealthSeminar.com or call (877) 432-7844.