Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the ear. It is usually described as a ringing noise, but can also sound like hissing, roaring, whooshing, clicking, chirping, whistling or buzzing. It varies in pitch and volume, may occur in one or both ears and can be an occasional nuisance or a constant irritation. Tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 Americans.

Most cases of tinnitus are subjective in nature, meaning only you can hear the sounds. On rare occasions, a doctor may also hear them during an examination. This type is known as objective tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t a disease itself, but a symptom of another condition. There are many possible causes, including:

  • Hearing loss
  • Noise exposure
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Head or neck injury
  • TMJ disorder
  • Hypertension
  • Stress
  • Migraines
  • Excessive earwax
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Acoustic neuroma

Many times, the exact cause of tinnitus is unknown. Tinnitus can severely impact your quality of life. Those suffering may experience fatigue, lack of sleep, memory and concentration problems, depression, anxiety and irritability.

In order to treat tinnitus, the underlying condition responsible for your symptoms should be identified. The solution may be as simple as removing built up earwax or switching to a different medication. When the condition causing your tinnitus is unknown or untreatable, noise suppression techniques are often recommended. This involves the use of an electronic device to generate white noise, which masks the ringing in your ears, making it less annoying. You can try using a fan, humidifier or air conditioner to achieve the same effect. Other options include hearing aids and tinnitus retraining devices that rely on patterned tones to divert your brain’s attention. Certain antidepressants and other medications are also believed to lessen symptoms, but these often produce side effects and may be habit forming.

If you would like more information on how to finally find relief from your tinnitus, contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.

Pediatric Services

Hearing loss isn’t confined to older adults: children of all ages can experience a loss of hearing. Roughly 3 out of 1000 babies are born with hearing loss, and its prevalence is increasing in adolescents. Noise-induced hearing loss is largely responsible for this increase. If you suspect your child is having difficulty hearing, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Delaying can have a strong effect on a child’s learning and development.

There are a number of signs that should prompt you to have your child’s hearing tested. These include:

  • A delay in speech and language.
  • Failure to respond to loud noises or your voice.
  • Poor academic performance.
  • Frequent ear infections.
  • Disorders associated with hearing loss (i.e. Down syndrome or autism).
  • Family history of hearing loss.

There are three main causes of hearing loss in children. Congenital factors contribute to children who are born with hearing problems as a result of genetic issues, prenatal problems or premature birth. Otitis media (ear infection) is a very common childhood ailment that occurs when fluid accumulates in the middle ear. This can cause difficulty hearing and, in severe cases, may lead to permanent hearing damage. Acquired hearing loss is triggered by illnesses, physical trauma, exposure to loud noises, and medications.

There are numerous options for treating hearing loss in children, depending upon the type and severity of their condition. Your child’s doctor may take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to otitis media; chronic cases may be treated with medications or ear tubes that are inserted surgically and allow fluid to drain from the ears. Permanent hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing devices that enable a child to communicate.

The earlier you act, the less chance of your child experiencing speech or learning difficulties as the result of a hearing impairment. Contact us at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.

Hearing Test

Audiology evaluations consist of a series of tests used to determine whether a hearing loss exists and, if so, measure its type, degree and configuration. An audiologist will assess the results of your individual test in order to develop a treatment plan geared toward your unique hearing loss.

An audiological evaluation can benefit patients of all ages, even those who do not exhibit signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is a progressive condition that often develops slowly. Many people are not aware of a change in their hearing because they gradually adapt to the subtle changes in their hearing ability over time. Tests indicate that on average it takes seven years for a hearing impaired individual to seek treatment. An evaluation should be the first course of action for anybody who even suspects a hearing loss.

The sooner a diagnosis of hearing loss is made, the more successful treatment will be. Early detection means more options for the patient. Many physicians urge making audiology evaluations a routine part of your overall healthcare, much like regular vision exams and dental checkups. They are quick, painless and provide immediate results.

A comprehensive evaluation consists of a series of individual diagnostic tests that measure different aspects of your hearing. Following a physical examination and a review of your medical history, you will be given any or all of the following tests.

  • Pure Tone Testing. Pure-tone testing uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds of various pitches and volumes. Wearing headphones, you will be asked to identify a series of tones by raising a hand, pressing a button, or responding verbally. The results are charted on an audiogram, a graph that shows the type, degree and configuration of your hearing loss by comparing frequency with intensity. The pattern recorded will help your audiologist determine your hearing threshold.
  • Bone Conduction Testing. Bone conduction testing is another type of pure-tone test that measures the inner ear’s response to sound. In this case, a two-pronged metal tuning fork is placed behind the ear or on the forehead. When vibrated, it produces a tone that travels to the cochlea via the skull. Your response determines how well sound travels through different parts of your ear, helping the audiologist diagnose your type of hearing loss. Bone conduction testing is often used in place of air conduction testing when an obstruction in the outer or middle ears is present.
  • Speech Testing. Speech or word recognition testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50% of the time. This is compared with your pure-tone test results to confirm the diagnosis. In addition, your ability to separate speech from background noise will be recorded. Speech testing may be administered in either a quiet or noisy environment; results are recorded on the audiogram for easy visual reference.
  • Tympanometry. Tympanometry is a test of the middle ear used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.
  • Acoustic Reflex Testing. The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear, and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem as well as the type of hearing loss.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Auditory brainstem response testing is used to determine whether sensorineural hearing loss exists. It is also frequently used to screen newborns for hearing problems. In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes, and you are given headphones to wear. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of varying intensities.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs). Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are sounds generated by vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. OAE testing utilizes a tiny probe fitted with a microphone and speaker that is used to stimulate the cochlea and measure its response. Individuals with normal hearing will produce emissions; when a hearing loss exceeds 25-30 decibels, no sound will be produced. This helps determine whether there is a blockage in the ear canal, excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs.

If you would like more information on the hearing tests we perform or would like to schedule an evaluation, contact our office at 337-266-9820.

Hearing Loss

More than 48 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss. The number has doubled within the last 30 years. Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in the United States, behind only arthritis and heart disease. The most common causes of hearing loss are noise exposure and aging (presbycusis), although there are a variety of other causes.

The ear is divided into three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. A sound wave is captured by the outer ear and funneled down the ear canal where it hits the eardrum and causes a vibration. That vibration is then passed through the three bones within the middle ear: the malleus, incus and stapes. The stapes, the last bone in the series, pushes against the oval window causing the fluid within the cochlea to move. The cochlea, which is within the inner ear, is lined with tiny hairs. The movement of fluid causes the hairs to move which in turn prompts them to send out an electronic signal. That signal travels through the auditory nerve to the brain, where it is processed as sound.

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed. They are categorized by which part of the auditory system is affected.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when the sound wave is unable to pass from the outer or middle ear to the inner ear. This can be caused by impacted earwax, fluid in the middle ear, an infection or a perforated eardrum. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary and can be corrected through medical or surgical means.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. This type of hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud noise, aging, head trauma and illness. While this kind of hearing loss is permanent, most find the use of a hearing aid beneficial.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means the patient has a problem with their outer or middle ear and inner ear. This type of hearing loss is treated in stages. First, the cause of the conductive hearing loss is identified and corrected. After that the sensorineural hearing loss is treated, usually with the use of a hearing aid.

In addition to determining the type of hearing loss you are suffering from, your audiologist must also determine the degree. The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound. It is important to note that different frequencies can have different levels of hearing loss, so a patient can have mild low-frequency hearing loss as well as moderate high-frequency loss. . Hearing loss is measured in decibels, such as:

  • Normal hearing is -10 to 20 dB
  • Mild hearing loss is 20 to 40 dB
  • Moderate hearing loss is 40 to 70 dB
  • Severe hearing loss is 70 to 90 dB
  • Profound hearing loss is over 91 dB

In order to determine the appropriate treatment plan for your hearing loss, your audiologist will need to complete a series of tests to determine the type and degree. Don’t wait to seek help; contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule a hearing screening.

Hearing Aids

A hearing aid is the most popular treatment for hearing loss. Over the years, hearing aids have evolved beyond anything your parents or grandparents used. The hearing aids on the market now are complex electronic devices boasting state-of-the-art technology. While deciding upon the right one may seem daunting, you do not have to take on this challenge alone.

The hearing experts at David & Eldregde will be with you every step of the way. Contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.

Custom Earmolds

Everybody’s ears are unique, which means the promise of “one size fits all” doesn’t really apply when it comes to hearing devices.

Whether you are investing in earplugs, ear buds or hearing aids, you’ll want a comfortable yet secure fit to ensure the best protection or maximum hearing performance. Earmolds are soft materials, typically plastic or acrylic, that are worn inside the ear canal or the concha of the ear. They are an essential part of most hearing aids. Because ears vary in shape and size from person to person, earmolds designed to match your ear anatomy provide the best fit.

Custom earmolds are made from impressions taken of your ear canals and outer ears with a silicone substance. These are sent to an outside lab, where molds are created. They are then used to make custom devices for a number of activities and professions: stethoscopes for doctors and nurses, headphones for pilots, earpieces for newscasters and earplugs for swimmers, musicians, race car drivers, hunters and pilots. They can benefit anybody who is exposed to loud sounds, or those who enjoy listening to music over portable MP3 players.

Custom earmolds are designed in a number of styles. These include:

  • Dome earmolds.
    These soft earmolds are designed for use with BTE hearing aids.
  • Canal earmolds.
    These are worn deep in the ear canals, and usually paired with ITC hearing aids.
  • Full-shell earmolds.
    This style fills up most of the ear canal, and helps prevent feedback. Especially useful for patients with moderate to severe hearing loss.
  • Skeleton earmolds.
    These also fill up most of the ear, but are “hollowed out” in the center for improved comfort and cosmetic appeal. A strip of material secures them in place inside the concha for a tight but comfortable seal. Ideal for individuals with mild to severe hearing loss.
  • Semi-skeleton earmolds.
    Similar to skeleton earmolds but lacking the back ring, making them easier to handle for people with manual dexterity issues.
  • Half-shell earmolds.
    Similar to full-shell earmolds but made with a bottom half only to fit in the concha of the ear. This style is designed for patients with mild forms of hearing loss.

If you would like more information about the process of obtaining custom earmolds or would like to schedule an appointment, contact our office at 337-266-9820.

Audiology Services

We have a highly qualified audiologist on our team who provides comprehensive audiology services that include hearing aids, hearing and balance diagnostics, tinnitus therapy, vertigo treatment and custom hearing protection.

Hearing loss and hearing related conditions can greatly impact your quality of life and should be evaluated by a hearing health care professional. In fact, untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, social isolation and cognitive decline.

In order to determine the appropriate treatment plan for your hearing health condition, your audiologist will need to evaluate and diagnose your symptoms. Contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.