Hearing Center at Live Oak Health Partners
1340 Wonder World Drive Suite 4301 San Marcos, TX 78666 P: (512) 353-6400
When you’re living with hearing loss, some of your favorite activities can become difficult and uncomfortable. When you or your loved one is ready to explore hearing options and treatments, life and communication will be cherished even more. At Live Oak Hearing Center, we take the time to understand your personal needs and listening habits. We give you a complete hearing examination and discuss any concerns you may have. We know that the hearing aid experience affects everyone differently. If you or your loved one is concerned about making this change, we want to make the transition as smooth as possible. A thorough evaluation and counseling with our audiologist are every bit as important as choosing the right hearing instrument for long-term happiness.
How We Hear
The human hearing system is extremely sophisticated. It is made up of three different sections that work to translate the sound waves in the world into electrochemical impulses that send information to our brains. The three different sections can be broken down into:
The Outer Ear
The outer ear is comprised of the pinna and the ear canal. The pinna takes the sound waves and funnels them into the ear canal, which is sealed at the end by the ear drum (or tympanic membrane)
The Middle Ear
The middle ear involves the ear drum, which is a piece of skin tissue that moves in and out with sound vibrations, as well as the three middle ear bones which are attached to one another and the ear drum. The three middle ear bones (called the malleus, the incus, and the stapes) transmit the sound waves and turn them into pressure waves to send into the inner ear via a window that the stapes is attached to.
The Inner Ear
The inner ear is a fluid-filled labyrinth in the middle of our skull that houses thousands of microscopic hair cells (cilia) which are frequency tuned. When the middle ear conducts a sound wave into the inner ear, hair cells specific to that sound wave’s frequency are bent back and fire a response to our auditory nerve. Then it’s up to our brains to translate the response from this point.
Hearing Loss – What are the Possible Causes?
The ear is made up of three different portions, and if there is a problem in any one of these parts of the ear, we can have hearing loss.
If the ear canal is blocked with excessive ear wax, this can result in a hearing loss. If a patient finds that he has hearing loss, the first thing an audiologist will do is look in his ears to ensure ear wax is not the culprit. If you have hearing loss due to excessive ear wax, it is recommended that you visit your primary care physician or an ENT physician to safely remove the wax.
Otitis externa, or an outer ear infection, can lead to hearing loss if swelling and debris block off the ear canals. If you are experiencing pain, itching, or irritation in your ears, it is recommended that you seek medical attention before having a hearing evaluation.
Middle ear infections are due to accumulation of fluid in the middle ear system. This can be due to a dysfunction in the Eustachian tube, which is supposed to equalize the pressure in the middle ear. When the Eustachian tube is not functioning, the fluid that gets built up can become infected, which can lead to ear pain, a plugged feeling, and a hearing loss. Middle ear infections happen more often in young children (under 3 years of age), because their Eustachian tubes are not fully developed. This type of hearing loss is most often temporary, but can be a chronic problem. If you have problems with middle ear infections, it is recommended that you see your primary care physician or an ear, nose, and throat physician.
Hearing loss related to age, or presbycusis, is related to the microscopic hair cells (cilia) inside the cochlea. These cilia become damaged over time due to constant use. The higher frequency (like bird chirping) cilia are generally damaged more quickly than the lower pitch cilia, which can lead to a difficulty with clarity of speech as our inner ear starts to age.
Noise induced hearing loss can lead to a more sudden damage of those same cilia in the cochlea, though this is usually due to one loud sound or a constant high level noise exposure. It is hard to determine if someone’s hearing loss is due to presbycusis or noise induced hearing loss, but it is important to not contribute to any more hearing loss by using hearing protection in noisy environments.
Ototoxicity, which means medicine that can negatively impact the health of the inner ear, can play a large role in hearing loss in some individuals. Chemotherapy drugs and aminoglycosides have been found to be ototoxic. When taking any of these medications for life threatening illnesses, it is recommended to have hearing monitoring to evaluate whether the drugs are having an adverse impact on your hearing ability.
Some people may have hereditary hearing loss which is due to some inherited genes from their family which leads to a less effective hearing system. There are many variations of causes and amounts of hearing impairments that are a result of hereditary hearing loss.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss can occur in a very small percentage of patients. If you feel a sudden change in hearing, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. There are many causes of sudden hearing loss, some of which may be managed if caught swiftly enough.
Hearing Protection – Musicians, Personal, Professional
At the Hearing Center at Live Oak Health Partners, we can provide with you with sound and water protection. We can help you choose a custom fit ear plug for many different recreational or work environments. Here are just some of the products we can fit for you:
Swim plugs: When swimming or showering, earplugs can help to keep moisture out of the ears by offering a snug fit in the ears. These plugs have been specially designed to float in case they come out of the ears when swimming.
Motorcycle/Sleep plugs: These plugs have been designed to be very comfortable and reduce the wind noise when riding a motorcycle. These are also small enough to cause no discomfort for sleepers who are looking to reduce the ambient noise.
Hunter plugs: Hearing protection is essential when shooting because of the high level of noise the shooter is exposed to. We offer a range of passive or active shooter’s plugs that will protect against impact noise but let normal speech through so you can hear the environment.
Custom Musician plugs: Musician’s plugs are a great solution for an individual who attends concerts or plays in bands or symphonies because the filters in the plugs reduce the sound equally along all frequencies. The sound will be more rich and full, and you will still get the protection of wearing plugs without losing the enjoyment of the music.
Custom headphones: These are high quality headphones encased in a custom mold designed just for your ears. These headphones are able to reduce the individual’s exposure to environmental noise without losing the sound quality of high quality headphones. These come in a variety of technology levels. ↑ Back to Top
Understanding Dizziness and Balance:
The sensation of dizziness or imbalance can be scary and confusing. Over 40% of adults experience dizziness severe enough to inform their doctors. It is important to explain to your physician exactly the symptoms you are experiencing so he can assess and treat your symptoms.
Every person may perceive dizziness differently, but it usually includes:
- Movement sensations
- Increase in fatigue
- Trouble focusing when reading
- Difficulties maintaining balance
Why does Dizziness Occur?
Dizziness happens when your body is trying to tell you that something is not working correctly. This may be an indicator of a variety of health disorders. If you are experiencing dizziness, it is important to find out the underlying cause by going through a full diagnostic work-up. This can help the doctor to treat the dizziness effectively.
Dizziness can result from a problem in the Vestibular system (in the inner ear), the Central Nervous system (the brainstem or brain), the Cardiovascular system (high blood pressure or anemia), an infection, or a reaction to a medication.
How is Dizziness Assessed?
After you’ve gone through a complete physical examination by your physician, he may refer you to an audiologist for further testing. Your balance system is primarily located in the inner ear, which connects with the brain, brainstem, eyes, and sensory nerves throughout your body. Audiologists are able to assess where your imbalance is occurring throughout your body through a sophisticated testing procedure.
The testing procedure is called a VNG (videonystagmography). You will be wearing goggles which have infra-red cameras attached that track and record your eye movements. A series of tests are run and compared to normative data.
We are here to help
The Hearing Center at Live Oak Health Partners works in conjunction with your physician to help give you better balance. We have a Doctor of Audiology, Jasmine N. Burrington, who can help to detect where the imbalance is occurring. Following your assessment with Dr. Burrington, we will work with your physician and possibly a physical therapist to create an appropriate treatment plan.
At the Hearing Center, we conduct a comprehensive hearing evaluation.
- A thorough case history to look at your past overall health and hearing history
- A look in both ears to make sure there are no blockages in either ear
- Tympanometry, which evaluates the middle ear health by checking to make sure there is no fluid behind the ear or perforation of the ear drum, or any other problem in the outer or middle ear.
- Hearing testing using speech to see how softly you can hear words and how accurately you can repeat back words that are at a comfortable volume
- Pure tone testing to see how well you can hear from the very high pitches to very low pitches. This helps us to understand what sounds you can hear and the ones that you may be missing.
- At the end of this evaluation, we will talk through the results with you and help you establish a plan for your hearing health.
At the Hearing Center, we work with state of the art hearing instrument technology and verification systems.
Hearing Instruments: We can help you choose a style of hearing instrument that suits your needs and expectations in your everyday listening environment. We have discreet, invisible, and powerful products that can meet every need. We will help you select a solution that meets your performance and price needs.
We also will program the hearing instruments using the latest in real ear measurement technology to make sure we are giving you the appropriate amplification. Hearing instruments should be programmed to match your hearing loss and ear canal resonance exactly. That’s why we use the AVANT REMsp device to fit your hearing instruments.
We will also measure your ability to understand speech in noise both with and without the hearing instruments. Because this is the major complaint of people with hearing loss, it is essential to ensure that the hearing instruments are giving you an increased ability to understand speech in noisy environments.
We will also implement a number of tools, including the LACE auditory training program and communication strategy conversations to help you to succeed in your environments.
All these tools help us to give you an auditory rehabilitation plan that suits your individual needs. When you purchase hearing instruments with us, we will be sure to care for your long term needs by servicing and maintaining the hearing instruments. It is recommended that you visit an audiologist at least twice a year to clean and evaluate your hearing instruments to make sure they are working optimally.
Jasmine N. Burrington, Au.D.
Jasmine N. Burrington, Au.D., a clinical Doctor of Audiology, will be working with you for all your hearing and balance needs. She works in conjunction with Dr. Michael Blair, an ear, nose, and throat physician at Live Oak Health Partners to ensure patients’ overall ear and hearing health.View Profile
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