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Getting Help for Your Hyperacusis
Hyperacusis, simply put, is a heightened sensitivity to everyday sounds that most people can tolerate easily. A person suffering from hyperacusis may find sounds like a running dishwasher, a nearby conversation or even the shuffling of papers unpleasantly loud or even painful. For some, the sensitivity is only to certain frequencies or pitches.
Hyperacusis is rare, affecting only one in 50,000 people. This number is higher among tinnitus sufferers, however, affecting about one in 1,000. Hyperacusis can affect people of any age, and it can occur in one or both ears. Untreated hyperacusis can cause social isolation, phonophobia (fear of sounds), depression and more.
It is extremely uncommon for someone to be born with hyperacusis. Hyperacusis can be caused by a number of diseases including Bell’s palsy, Lyme disease, Meniere’s disease, head injury, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome and noise induced hearing loss. Hyperacusis is also linked with neurologic conditions such as PTSD, epilepsy, depression, migraines, cerebral palsy and autism.
For those whose hyperacusis is the result of trauma to the head or hearing system, symptoms may go away as the injury heals. Identifying the underlying cause is always the first step in treating hyperacusis.
Some suffering from hyperacusis may seek relief by wearing earplugs or earmuffs. While this may help in the short-term, in some it actually decreases the already poor tolerance of noise, increasing sensitivity in the long run. This result is most obvious immediately after removing the ear protection.
For some patients sound desensitization has been reported to help. The patient is exposed to white noise at initially a very low volume, increasing it over time to improve tolerance. This treatment may take six months to a year, and maybe even longer for certain patients.
Those who suspect they may have hyperacusis should seek an evaluation by an audiologist for a full audiologic evaluation, including a hearing test, and take a record of your medical history to accurately diagnose your condition and determine your Loudness Discomfort Levels (LDL). Valuable information may be obtained from the nonprofit group, Hyperacusis Research, at www.hyperacusisresearch.org.
Dr. Andrea Livingston is one of Highlands County’s premier audiologists and is committed to providing compassionate, personalized patient care.View Page
Cochlear Implant Educational Event
Sebring, Flor. (Oct. 25, 2016) – Central Florida Hearing Services recently hosted an educational event on cochlear implants to help answer the question many patients have regarding what to do when hearing aids don’t help anymore. Those who attended from the community were struggling with hearing aids that were recently purchased at other facilities, and were still not able to function day to day. There was a real need for this valuable information provided by Dr. Livingston, in order for these patients to pursue better hearing. Closed captioning on a screen was provided in order for those who attended to be a part of the discussion and assist them in obtaining the information that was presented.
Dr. Andrea Livingston, board certified audiologist at Central Florida Hearing Services, orchestrated this event. According to Dr. Livingston, “An important part of assisting patients with hearing and equilibrium disorders is being able to provide rehabilitation, including triage to appropriate facilities, when those services are not provided in our community. That’s what I consider true patient care.”
Cochlear implants are electronic medical devices that are surgically placed in the inner ear to do the work of the cochlea if it is damaged. The purpose is to create electrical signals to be sent to the brain for processing when a patient is no longer able to be helped with hearing aids or assistive devices (Bluetooth or FM). One study showed that people with cochlear implants experience an average of 80 percent sentence understanding, as opposed to those with hearing aids who experience only 10 percent understanding. *
Surgery and therapy for cochlear implant candidates are only offered at specialty centers. It is the mission of Central Florida Hearing Services to improve the health of those they serve with a commitment to excellence in all they do. Their goal is to offer quality hearing and balance evaluations, rehabilitation programs that set community standards and exceed patients’ expectations and care in a convenient, cost-effective and accessible manner.
For more information about cochlear implants or the other services offered at Central Florida Hearing Services, please contact Dr. Andrea Livingston by phone at (863) 386-9111 or by email at email@example.com.
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CFHS Joins American Institute of Balance
Sebring, Fla., (Sept. 27, 2016) – Central Florida Hearing Services (CFHS) is now an affiliate of the American Institute of Balance (AIB). This affiliation gives the CFHS team increased access to education and training.
AIB is recognized as the leader in diagnostic, treatment and educational research in vestibular and equilibrium sciences since 1992. AIB clinics and affiliates are committed to a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to patient care. AIB clinics and affiliates are located in the greater Tampa Bay and Orlando communities including Florida Hospital, Carrollwood, Zephyrhills and North Pinellas. The Institute’s main campus and educational center is located in Largo, Florida.
Central Florida Hearing Services, directed by Dr. Andrea Livingston, Au.D., is the premiere provider of hearing and balance health care in Central Florida for children and adults. Services include hearing and balance evaluations, tinnitus therapy, hearing aid evaluations and fittings, cochlear implant consultations, assistive listening devices, and custom ear pieces for swimming, general noise and music protection.
Livingston is a board certified doctor of audiology. She received her doctorate degree from Arizona School of Health Sciences. She completed a fellowship at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California that allowed her to gain diverse experience with patients and train physician residents in audiology practices and protocols. For more than 30 years, Livingston has provided audiology services to the Highlands Country community.
Contact Central Florida Hearing Services Dr. Livingston at (863) 386-9111 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule an appointment.View Page
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Adjusting to Your Hearing Device
In an ideal world as soon as you put a hearing aid into your ear for the first time you would hear perfectly.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many sounds your brain is not used to hearing. Everyday sounds that you paid no attention to may now seem really loud or shrill. While it may take your brain a little while to get used to this, there are some things you can do to expedite the process.
Approaching the adjustment process with realistic expectations is crucial. To get accustomed to the feeling of a device in your ear, try to wear the hearing aids every day. Wear the device for as long as you comfortably can and each day, try to wear it slightly longer than the day before. You can start out wearing your hearing aid in a quiet room, getting used to your own voice and quiet sounds. You should wear your hearing aid in listening environments you are typically in; for example, if you attend community meetings every week you should make sure you attend.
Throughout the first few weeks of using your hearing aid you should write down everything. This can include times your hearing aid felt uncomfortable, times you couldn’t hear well or times the hearing aid seemed too loud. These notes should then be given to your audiologist at your first follow-up visit. They will assist in fine tuning your hearing aid if appropriate.
Training programs have been proven to accelerate the adjustment period. These programs contain listening exercises designed to fine-tune your sense of hearing while using your new hearing aid. These exercises focus on a number of things such as loudness scaling, perception of everyday sounds, basic auditory skills and word and timbre discrimination.
These trainings usually also provide educational information to help you understand hearing loss, how to take proper care of your hearing aid and strategies on how to improve your communication skills. Trainings like these have been shown to improve basic auditory skills, cognitive skills, speech understanding, quality of life and long-term satisfaction with hearing aids.
Trainings like these can take on many forms. Some hearing clinics offer one-on-one or small group sessions. Hospitals and healthcare centers provide trainings as well. The newest and most convenient option is computer training programs. These trainings contain interactive audiology exercises that can be completed in your free time and in the comfort of your own home. These at-home training programs usually provide you with daily exercises at various difficulty levels. They will cover basic listening skills, selective hearing, word recognition and understanding speech.
If you are interested in completing a training program or would like more information on the adjustment process, contact Dr. Livingston (Central Florida Hearing Services) at 863-386-9111.View Page