My Blog
By Carolina Hearing Institute
May 26, 2020
Category: Otolaryngology
Tags: Tinnitus  

Tinnitus is an otolaryngologic disorder that millions of Americans suffer from. With no definite cause or cure, this persistent buzzing, roaring, or ringing sound in one or both ears disrupts sleep, daily activities, and well-being. Fortunately, here at Carolina Hearing Institute, your audiologists, Dr. Katie McGee and Dr. Jason Wigand, help patients in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter, SC, manage tinnitus for a better quality of life.

What causes tinnitus?

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) says that the causes are as varied as the people who suffer from this continuous noise disorder. Age seems to be a factor, says Harvard Health, as most sufferers are over the age of 55 and have some degree of hearing loss.

Additionally, the ATA indicates these factors may contribute to tinnitus and its severity:

  • Exposure to loud noise from music, power tools, and traffic
  • Drugs such as aspirin, some antidepressants, and blood pressure medications
  • Jaw joint dysfunction
  • Meniere's Disease, an autoimmune disorder which impairs hearing and balance
  • Anxiety disorders

Whatever the precipitating event, factor, or physical defect, the communication along the auditory nerve to the brain is disrupted. The brain then produces inappropriate sound signals, similar to the static on an AM/FM radio.

Treating tinnitus

The first step is a hearing evaluation at Carolina Hearing Institute in Columbia, Lugoff, or Sumter, SC. During these appointments, one of our audiologists will ask about your symptoms and their character, timing, and duration. The doctor will perform a hearing evaluation, as well, to determine the degree of hearing loss that you may have.

Finally, your treatment plan will show you ways to alleviate your tinnitus. You should lower excessive noise exposure as best you can and use ear protection if you have a loud occupation. Amplification with today's modern hearing aids can, in part, cancel some of those disruptive sounds.

In addition, some behavioral and cognitive therapies, such as mindfulness, help manage symptoms. Masking noise from a fan or white noise machine helps patients ignore their tinnitus, particularly at night when symptoms tend to be more noticeable. Stress management techniques, such as biofeedback, alter blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, reducing tinnitus.

We will help you

Dr. McGee, Dr. Wigand, and their caring staff all understand the frustrations of tinnitus. These audiologists in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter, SC, partner with scores of patients in tinnitus management, improving quality of life. Call Carolina Hearing Institute for an evaluation at (803) 424-2208.

By Carolina Hearing Institute
May 15, 2020
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Based on CDC recommendations, the use of face masks has become part of our new daily routine. While we understand the necessity of face masks for public health, for the millions of Americans with hearing loss, face masks can add to communication challenges.

Visual cues from body language and lip reading are part of normal communication. However, with a hearing impairment, the visual cues obtained from lip reading are vital for speech understanding. Many of us do not realize how much we rely on those cues until we don’t have access to them. Communicating with others can become much more difficult when face masks obscure lip-reading cues.

Face masks also muffle speech. Coupled with social distancing guidelines of putting six feet between yourself and others, speech levels are reduced, and speech can be difficult to understand clearly.

At the very least, these changes to our daily communication can be mentally taxing for those with hearing loss, as more cognitive resources must be diverted to listening.

So, what can we do to make communication easier?

  1. Reduce background noise in the environment as much as possible. If possible, move to a quiet location.
  2. Advise others to speak slower and more clearly, rather than shouting.
  3. If you have a hearing aid, wear it! Masks that tie behind the head can sometimes be more comfortable for hearing aid users to wear.
  4. Consider downloading a speech to text app on your smart phone to ensure that you are not missing out on important information.
  5. If you have not had a hearing evaluation, schedule one. Our audiologists can recommend personalized options that can allow you to communicate easier!


Katie McGee, Au.D.,CCC-A

By Carolina Hearing Institute
April 23, 2020
Category: Ear Treatments

Hearing loss can be caused by several factors, including exposure to extremely loud noises or aging. Whatever the specific cause, hearing loss can make certain activities more challenging, such as communicating clearly with others. If you are not able to hear as well as you used to, a hearing aid could be beneficial. At the Carolina Hearing Institute in Columbia, SC, we have several Oticon hearing aids to meet different needs. Our skilled audiologists, Dr. Kathryn McGee and Dr. Jason Wigand, can recommend a specific hearing aid for you.

Types of Hearing Aids

If hearing loss is interfering with daily activities, the right hearing aid could dramatically improve your quality of life. At our audiology practice in Columbia, SC, we offer Oticon hearing aids in a range of styles to suit different needs and preferences. Oticon hearing aids are known for their comfort, reliability, and cutting edge technology. Five main styles or types of hearing aids that are available include:

  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • In the ear (ITE)
  • In the canal (ITC)
  • Completely in the canal (CIC)
  • Receiver in canal

Each type of hearing aid offers distinct benefits or advantages. For example, hearing aids that fit inside the ear or canal are more discreet than styles that are worn behind the ear. However, some types of hearing aids offer a greater range of volume control and can be more easily adjusted throughout the day as needed. Other types of hearing aids offer special benefits, such as wind suppression, Bluetooth connectivity, or a long battery life.

Our knowledgeable audiologists can help you figure out which type of hearing aid might best suit your needs and lifestyle. Based on information you provide about your daily routine, normal activity level, or type of job, for instance, our audiologists can recommend specific hearing aid styles that will be the most comfortable for you, while offering the features you prefer. Whether you want a hearing aid that is practically invisible to others or one that allows you to adjust the volume along several levels, we can help you find the right one for you.

A hearing aid can dramatically enhance your quality of life by restoring your ability to readily hear. We have a wide selection of hearing aids by Oticon at our office in Columbia, SC. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McGee or Dr. Wigand, call the Carolina Hearing Institute, serving the Columbia and Lugoff areas, at (803) 424-2208.

By Carolina Hearing Institute
March 06, 2020
Category: Otolaryngology
Tags: Ear Infection  

Learn to spot the warning signs of an ear infection.

If you have children then chances are good that know just how easy it is for them to develop ear infections. It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms and signs of an ear infection, particularly in infants and young children that can’t tell you that their ears hurt. From the office of our Columbia, SC audiologists Dr. Kathryn McGee and Dr. Jason Wigand, here are some warning signs that your child may be dealing with an ear infection,

  • Tugging or pulling at the ears
  • Increased fussiness or clinginess
  • Difficulty sleeping or crying when lying down
  • Changes in hearing or trouble hearing certain sounds
  • Pus or fluid draining from the ears
  • Fever

An ear infection occurs when the middle ear becomes inflamed, which is the result of a bacterial or viral infection. When this happens, fluid builds up behind the eardrum, resulting in pain. Otitis media is the most common type of ear infection.

If your child is displaying any of the symptoms above or if they are old enough to tell you that they are experiencing ear pain then it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with one of our Columbia, SC, ear doctors.

How are ear infections treated?

Contrary to what you might think, you may be surprised to discover that not all ear infections will require medication. In fact, it may actually be best to let minor infections just run their course. This is usually the case with ear infections caused by viruses; however, if bacteria are present, this will require a round of antibiotics to get rid of the infection.

If children deal with persistent or recurring ear infections, then our ear specialists may recommend placing tubes within the eardrums, which can help drain any fluids that have built up behind the eardrum to reduce middle ear inflammation. These ear tubes can also reduce the chances of future ear infections.

With five convenient locations in Columbia, SC, Lugoff and Sumter, SC, Carolina Hearing Institute is your hearing and ear clinic within the Columbia, SC, area. If you or your child is dealing with ear pain or other signs of an ear infection call our office today at (803) 424-2208.

By Carolina Hearing Institute
December 27, 2019
Category: Otolaryngology
Tags: Hearing Aids  

How your audiologists in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter, SC, can help you hear well

Hearing loss can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, with today’s state-of-the-art hearing aids, you can easily stay a part of the conversation! Here at Carolina Hearing Institute, Dr. Jason P. Wigand and Kathryn S. McGee can help you choose the hearing aid that can enhance your hearing. They have five convenient office locations in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter, SC, to help you hear better.

To choose a great hearing aid, you need to know the facts. These are just a few frequently asked questions and answers about hearing aids:

What are some of the signs I need a hearing aid?

You may benefit from a hearing aid if you regularly need people to speak louder, often hear muffled speech/sounds, and you have difficulty picking out individual words from background noise. You also may find yourself avoiding social interactions because you can’t hear well.

How can an audiologist help me with my hearing loss?

An audiologist can do a hearing screening and hearing testing to determine whether you are experiencing hearing loss, and if so, to what degree. After your degree of hearing loss is determined, the audiologist can recommend the hearing aid which would be best for you.

What types of hearing aids are available?

  • A CIC hearing aid, which fits completely inside the ear canal; this is the least noticeable hearing aid and it doesn’t have a directional microphone or volume control.
  • An ITE hearing aid, which fits in your ear and loops over the outer or lower part of your ear; these are more noticeable than CIC aids, and they have volume control.
  • A BTE hearing aid, which fits behind your ear and hooks over the top of your ear; these hearing aids connect to an inner earpiece and have excellent sound quality.

Contact Us

To learn more about hearing aids and what they can do for you, talk with the experts. Call Dr. Jason P. Wigand and Kathryn S. McGee of Carolina Hearing Institute in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter, SC, today by dialing 803-424-2208.

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