News and Updates from the Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center

tinnitus hyperacusis veterans jacksonville

A Veteran’s Experience with Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

If you’ve ever experienced ringing in your ears (tinnitus), even for just a few moments, you can imagine how disruptive and even crippling it can be when it’s ongoing or frequent.

Tinnitus is often caused by age-related hearing loss and changes. It can also be caused by earwax blockage or ear bone changes. In other cases, it’s caused by certain medications, blood vessel disorders, and other chronic health conditions.

Oftentimes, an exact cause isn’t determined, although it can often be linked to inner ear hair cell damage. There are tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear and they move in conjunction with the pressure of sound waves. Their movement triggers the release of an electrical signal from an auditory nerve to your brain, which your brain interprets as sounds. But once those inner ear hair cells are damaged, they can send random electrical impulses to your brain resulting in tinnitus.

Interested in learning more about tinnitus? Take a look at this blog post for a list of tinnitus facts.

sergeant veteranTinnitus and veterans

While tinnitus can happen to anyone, today we’re focusing on one group who is disproportionately affected by this condition. In many cases, their tinnitus is brought on by exposure to frequent and repetitive loud noises, including bomb blasts and gunfire – veterans. 

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is one the most prevalent service-connected disabilities for veterans, with more than 1 million veterans receiving disability compensation for the condition.

Tinnitus affects more than the ears

Evidence suggests a strong link between a veteran’s hearing and mental health. In 2015, researchers with the VA and Loma Linda University Medical School found that veterans with untreated tinnitus frequently develop anxiety, depression, or both.

Additionally, hearing loss can often lead to isolation and avoidance of social settings, limiting family and caregiver support, and exacerbating mental and physical health problems. 

Untreated tinnitus can also have a deeply negative impact on a veteran’s physical health. 

A 2017 study conducted by the South Texas Veterans Health Care System also reported that without intervention, veterans with hearing conditions who suffer from injuries are more likely to lack progress in their physical rehabilitation, as well as more vulnerable to life-threatening ailments and injuries.

Treatment options

Fortunately, there’s hope. The primary treatment for tinnitus is hearing aids. Research indicates 93 percent of hearing aid users experience a significant overall improvement in their quality of life because of their hearing aids. Such reported improvements include greater overall physical health, cognitive functioning, ability to communicate, and personal independence.

To get a firsthand perspective about the challenges veterans face when dealing with tinnitus, we interviewed a sergeant of the U.S. Army Reserve about his experience living with tinnitus and hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to sound), which affects approximately 50 percent of individuals with tinnitus. 

In this interview, the sergeant shares his recommendations as well as information for anyone dealing with tinnitus and hyperacusis, including his fellow veterans.

tinnitus hyperacusis jacksonville veterans

A Veteran’s Experience

Q: What is your advice for veterans who think that they may have tinnitus and hyperacusis?

Sergeant: The first thing is to go to a medical professional that understands what you are going through. For me, that is Dr. Mattson of Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center. Secondly, stay away from loud noise. The ear condition isn’t going to get better. You can only keep it the way it is or make it worse. I strongly suggest staying away from loud noises, using masking devices that JSHC provides, and changing your lifestyle to utilize the resources you have, such as medical professionals, family, and your personal fortitude. Life is different now. Medical science cannot fix it yet, but you can make sure it’s not getting worse.

Q: What was your experience at JSHC like?

Sergeant: As you may know, the VA wait time is about a month to a month-and-a-half to see an audiologist. With this clinic, it may be just a few days until you can see an audiologist. When I met with Dr. Mattson, she truly understood what I was going through. I’m in safe hands. Dr. Mattson explained to me what I’m going through. She explained to me what can be done to normalize the situation. You cannot fix it completely, but you can improve your quality of life. She fought to authorize resources for me. I have resources like musician earplugs and a specialized hearing aid for daily use. She got this for me. She made the phone calls. She said, “This veteran needs this.”

“I enjoy being an advocate for my patients that are veterans. To me, it’s about helping them get their life back on track. There is nothing greater than giving back to someone needing the same help. Usually, they are working towards getting back to work and feeling comfortable with being in public again. It’s a hard struggle for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries. These veterans oftentimes have hidden injuries that they feel trapped with. Having the right support makes all the difference.”

Fenja Mattson, AuD, CCC-A
Doctor of Audiology
Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center

Q: Would you recommend JSHC to other veterans dealing with tinnitus and hyperacusis issues?

Sergeant: Through all my experiences with different doctors, audiologists, and ENTs (Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor) I believe strongly whatever branch of military you served, the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center is your best option and the best treatment that you will get.

I would ask for Dr. Mattson. She truly cares about vets. There is no cure for our condition, but there are things she can do for you to improve your quality of life. That’s what matters. The doctor cares. She knows what you are going through. She can help you with what you are going through. I believe this is the best place for vets to get treatment.

Q: What caused you to seek treatment at Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center?

Sergeant: Since being discharged from active duty, Duval County is my home. I went to a few audiologists and I went to the VA, and most of the responses I got were, “Live with it.” At that time, 2008-2009, there was limited technology, and overall my experience with audiologists and ENTs in Duval County was totally negative.

A year ago, I did research online to find which is the best clinic or who is the doctor that specializes in and understands tinnitus and hyperacusis. I found a couple of audiologists in Duval County and I met with a few of them. I found Dr. Mattson of Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center and saw that she specializes in hearing. At that time, I came and I met her. I truly am blessed to be here and to have her as an audiologist who can understand what I’m going through.

Out of all the audiologists and ENT doctors in Duval County, including the VA, she is the primary person I would like to recommend you come and get treatment from. She is the reason I chose this place.

Q: What caused your tinnitus and hyperacusis?

Sergeant: My first assignment in the military was infantry. In infantry, we are front line troops and use our auditory system to survive in combat. Our auditory system is being used not just 12 hours a day, but 24 hours a day. You may sleep, but your auditory system is working in the background to make sure you’re not getting attacked. This is the condition for 11 months in a combat zone. Your auditory system is used and abused and, if it doesn’t recover, there will be consequences. What happened to me by the end of deployment was that everything was loud to me. Everything was bright and then the ringing came. It would go on for 10-15 seconds and I couldn’t really figure out where it came from.

Dealing with tinnitus and hyperacusis can be incredibly challenging and frustrating, but you’re not alone. Please contact us so we can help you manage and treat these and other hearing-related conditions.  

Are you interested in learning more about Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, or our services, events or volunteer opportunities? Please reach out to us or call (904) 355-3403‎.

Did you learn a lot from this article? Don’t miss these other posts either: 

ADULT SPEECH DISORDERS AND HEARING LOSS

HOW DOES HEARING LOSS AFFECT THE BODY?

HOW ALLERGIES IMPACT HEARING

This article was updated on October 15, 2020.

904 magazine june 2015

Jacksonville Magazine Article on Hearing Loss and Technology

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

JSHC-904-Magazine

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center in June 2015 issue of 904 Magazine, published by Jacksonville Magazine.

In the June 2015 issue of 904 Magazine published by Jacksonville Magazine, Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center is spotlighted in an article titled “Can You Hear Me Now?”

The article focuses on how important technology can be in overcoming hearing loss. In it, two professional communicators explain how hearing loss has impacted their careers and work and the role of technology in helping them overcome the associated challenges.

We are so proud to share this spotlight moment with our supporters and to share this story on hearing loss and technology! Please check out the June 2015 issue of 904 Magazine. We’re on page 20&21.

 

swimmers ear jacksonville

Swimmer’s Ear: What Moms Need to Know About Swimming & Ear Issues

This summer, kids will spend lots of time in the pool and playing in the ocean. If you’re a parent, you may be all too familiar with the pain and discomfort in your child’s ears after a long weekend of swimming. Depending on your child’s age, the symptoms they exhibit may vary, but the result is the same: pain, inflammation and even infection can set in. By being informed of the causes, prevention and treatment options, you can hopefully reduce the chance of having to deal with swimmer’s ear.

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is a painful inflammation and infection of the ear canal. While anyone can get otitis externa from a variety of causes, it is most often seen in children and caused by water getting in the ear from activities such as swimming- hence the name. Unfortunately, once someone has had swimmer’s ear, they are likely to get it again.

Signs and Symptoms

The main symptom of swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is ear pain. It can be quite severe and usually gets worse when the outer part of the ear is pulled or pressed; it may also be painful when chewing. For children, swelling of the ear canal might make them complain of a full feeling or discomfort in the ear. The outer part of the ear may become red or swollen, and the lymph nodes around the ear could become large and possibly tender. There could also be drainage of clear, odorless fluid.

If left untreated symptoms could get worse, resulting in temporary hearing loss. This is caused by pus and debris or swelling of the canal which blocks the passage of sound into the ear.

Causes of Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear can occur when water, sand, dirt, or other common debris gets inside the ear canal. Other possible causes include:

  • A very narrow or hairy ear canal
  • Bubble baths, soaps, and shampoos that get in the ear canal
  • Earwax stuck in the ear canal (impacted) due to use of cotton swabs that may push the earwax deeper into the ear canal
  • Exostoses, or bony overgrowths in the ear canal
  • Headphones or hearing aids inserted into the ear
  • Scratching the ear canal with a cotton swab, bobby pin, fingernail, or other sharp object
  • Skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis, or seborrhea
  • Sweating

Preventing Swimmer’s Ear

Follow these suggestions to prevent swimmer’s ear.

  • Always dry the ears well, tilting the head to both sides to drain water from the ear canal after water activities such as swimming or bath time.
  • Use over-the-counter ear drops that contain acetic acid or alcohol, which help prevent infection when used after swimming. Only use if the eardrums are still intact.
  • Do not put objects into ears or attempt to clean them, including cotton-tipped swabs.

Treating Swimmer’s Ear

Since otitis externa is an infection in a hard to reach and delicate place, it should be treated by a doctor. Place a warm washcloth or heating pad against the affected ear and use Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease discomfort until seeing the doctor. Wear a shower cap while showering or bathing to prevent more water getting in the ear. Your doctor may also recommend earplugs for water activities.

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center wants to make sure you get the facts about swimmer’s ear so you and your family can have a safe and healthy summer. Swimmer’s ear can be very painful, and sometimes even serious. If you suspect swimmer’s ear, get it checked out and treated by a doctor.

If you have further questions about our services, events or volunteer opportunities, please reach out to us or call (904) 355-3403‎.

speech and hearing jacksonville

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center Completes Screening of 2385 Children

speech and hearing jacksonvilleThe Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center, through grants funded by The Chartrand Family Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, The Florida Blue Foundation and Medtronic has completed the screening of 2385 children ages 2 – 5 and provided 1765 speech and language therapy sessions to 79 children who were identified as at risk for communications disorders.  The announcement was made by Mike Howland, President and CEO of the nonprofit.

The purpose of the grants was to provide speech-language pathology screenings, evaluations, and therapy to underserved and under/uninsured pre-kindergarten children located at daycare centers and preschools throughout Duval County.  It is vital to catch and treat speech and hearing disorders at an early age so children will not fall behind in school.

“Young children with speech and language disorders are at increased risk for difficulty with academic performance later in life,” said Dorothy Train-Marsh, a speech pathologist at Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center. “Speech sound production is key to letter-sound relationships necessary for reading and writing.”

Parents should note the number of words their child uses by pre-kindergarten as well as the ability to string together four to five words in a sentence.  Certain phonological sounds such as saying the letter “v” or “f” should be present around the age of three.

Screenings were provided by ASHA Certified Speech-Language pathologists at over 75 Duval County preschools.speech and hearing jacksonville  Evaluations and therapy were provided to children with Medicaid, uninsured children and underinsured children at more than 35 preschools in Duval County.

“We are grateful to our grantors for helping us to provide this much needed service,” said Howland.  “The Chartrand Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation and Medtronic understand that children need to be ready to learn and communication skills are an important skill set for school.”

The Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center was founded in 1949 by the Junior League of Jacksonville.  Today this nonprofit, located at 1128 N. Laura St., serves children, adults and seniors providing screenings, evaluations and treatments in the areas of speech pathology and audiology.  Most major insurances are accepted.

jacksonville events finfest

Top 7 Reasons You Should Join Us for FinFest!

 

jacksonville events finfest

If you want to support a worthy cause AND have a fabulous time, join us for our annual fundraising event, FinFest 2015: Return to the River, on May 30, 2015. FinFest is our largest fundraiser, raising the funds needed for Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center to provide our community with quality speech and hearing services. Here are our Top 7 reasons you will want to get your tickets to FinFest 2015: Return to the River.

Top 7 Reasons You Should Join Us for FinFest

1. This is Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center’s biggest fundraising event. As the only non-profit agency in Northeast Florida accredited for both speech-language pathology and audiology services, we provide high quality care through the generosity of our community to ensure no one is turned away. In 2014, the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center helped 5,290 people with speech and hearing disorders in Northeast Florida through professional speech and audiology therapies. This is your opportunity to make a difference.

2. Through our Preschool Communication Initiative, we have provided speech and hearing screenings to 2,385 children at 75 preschools in Duval County. It is our vision that every child aged 3 to 5 in a five-county Northeast Florida area will be identified, diagnosed and treated for speech, language and hearing disorders, enabled to start kindergarten on an even keel developmentally, free from stigma, with their classmates.

3. Listen to excellent live music from St. Augustine’s Henry and the Seahawks. Henry and the SeaHawks are known for their tropical hoedown style music played with passion, sweat, and as they like to say- “sunshine.”

4. Enjoy the beautiful scenery at the Timuquana Country Club. Timuquana Country Club is one of Florida’s premier country clubs as well as one of the oldest in Jacksonville. The club’s location on the western edge of the St. Johns River gives it a “million dollar view” of the Jacksonville skyline.

5. Meet First Coast News Anchor Katie Jeffries and our Honorary Co-Chairs.  As our official Master of Ceremonies, Katie will bring her professional experience and pleasant personality to ensure you know when all the special events of the evening are happening. Moody and Natali Chisholm, John and Gena Delaney, Artis and Enola Gay Gilmore, Robert and Margaret Hill, and John Falconetti and Shannon Miller will serve as our Honorary Co-Chairs of FinFest.

6. Participate in an auction to acquire fabulous items. With quality items donated from local and national businesses, athletes, artists, and authors, you are sure to find a valuable treasure.

7. Let us not forget- have FUN! Make sure to put on your best Hawaiian/Beach casual outfit, invite your friends, make new connections and be ready to have a memorable evening!

Make sure to join us on our Facebook event page and invite your friends!jacksonville events finfest

For sponsorship and ticket info, contact Kristen Dietzen at 904-355-3403 or kdietzen@shcjax.org.

For auction donations, contact Cathy Howland at 904-355-3403 or chowland@shcjax.org.

We will see you there!

Michael Howland, President and CEO

Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center Selects Michael Howland as New CEO

The Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center has selected Michael Howland as its President and CEO. Howland replaces Bill McQuilkin, who retired after five years at the helm.

“We are excited to attract in Mike Howland an energetic, experienced leader who has made a positive impact at every stop of his career,” said Dr. Rick Pepis, Chair of the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center Board of Directors.

The 65-year old organization served 5,390 Northeast Florida residents with speech, hearing and language challenges in its last fiscal year.  Funding for the center, which plans to replace its 50-year old building with a state-of-the-art facility in the same location, comes from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, United Way, City of Jacksonville, Chartrand Foundation, Florida Blue, the Community Foundation in Northeast Florida and individual donors, as well as private pay clientele.

Howland most recently served as Vice President for University Advancement and Chief Strategic Relations Officer at his Jacksonville University alma mater. He previously led the Southeastern Council of Foundations, Noble of Indiana, Christian Service Charities and three related associations of national charities, Independent Charities of America and the San Francisco District and Region of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition to his undergraduate degree from JU, where he served as president of the student body and alumni association, and on the JU Board of Trustees, Howland earned Juris Doctor and Master of Arts-Public Administration degrees from St. Louis University. He and his wife, Cathy, have three children, including daughter Madeline, a nursing student at JU.

We invite you to connect with Mike on LinkedIn.

FinFest at Sawgrass

The Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center will host its premiere event, FinFest at Sawgrass, on Saturday, October 4, at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa located in Ponte Vedra Beach. We are honored to once again have Acosta Sales and Marketing as our Presenting Sponsor and Robert and Margaret Hill as honorary event Co-Chairs.

FinFest at Sawgrass is sure to be an amazing event! Guests will enjoy great eats, drinks, dancing, and a riveting silent and live auction. Auction items include overnight stays in Hawaii, art, entertainment packages, and so much more! Entertainment will be provided by KTG Musical Entertainment, a high-energy dance band known for their live horns, musical excellence, and stage presence.

Tickets for FinFest at Sawgrass are $125 for adults and $75 for young professionals (under 40). Tickets for the event can be purchased online on our website www.shcjax.org. Funds raised from the event will directly fund our mission of providing the highest quality professional and compassionate care to all individuals with speech, hearing, and or language disorders in our community. We hope to see you there!

Questions about FinFest at Sawgrass? Contact Janet Streit at jstreit@shcjax.org.

Join in on the conversation on Twitter at #JSHCFinfest.

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