My Blog
By Carolina Hearing Institute
December 30, 2020
Category: Audiology
Tags: Audiologist  

Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing impairments, but they can also help with other ear-related issues. Additional conditions treated by audiologists include vertigo and other balance disorders, as well as tinnitus, which is associated with a persistent ringing in the ears. Dr. Kathryn McGee, Dr. Jason Wigand, and Dr. Kelly Long, the experienced audiologists at South Carolina Institute in Columbia, diagnose, treat, and help prevent hearing and balance problems.

What is an Audiologist?

Audiologists are highly skilled professionals who specialize in treating hearing impairments and balance disorders. They perform a wide range of assessments, including hearing tests, to diagnose various conditions and disorders. Once the specific problem is identified, a personalized treatment plan is developed. The audiologists at our practice in Columbia treat hearing and balance issues in patients of all ages, including infants, children, teens, and adults.

Conditions Treated by Audiologists

Many patients are referred to audiologists for help with hearing impairment. Comprehensive hearing evaluations are performed to determine the type and extent of hearing loss. If a hearing aid is needed, an audiologist helps patients select one that will meet their needs. The audiologist also ensures the hearing aid fits properly. They can usually repair hearing aids, as well, when the device is not performing optimally.

Audiologists also help protect hearing by providing custom-fitted earplugs for individuals who work or perform in loud settings, such as musicians. Additionally, they can fit individuals for custom swim plugs if needed. Based on your individual lifestyle and other factors, an audiologist could provide individualized recommendations for precautions you can take to better protect your hearing.

In addition to treating hearing loss, audiologists also treat balance disorders, including chronic dizziness and vertigo. Issues with the ears can affect balance. The inner ear sends signals to the brain regarding physical orientation. When the brain thinks you are off-balance, you might experience dizziness. When something, such as an infection, interferes with the signals being sent by the ear to the brain, you can experience a dizzy sensation even if you are upright and completely balanced. An audiologist can diagnose the exact problem and treat it.

Tinnitus is another issue commonly treated by audiologists. It is a condition associated with a buzzing, ringing or other sounds in one or both ears. The noise can be persistent or occur off and on but is not caused by an actual stimulus. Tinnitus can be an indication of hearing loss, but it can also develop for other reasons, such as a head injury, exposure to loud sounds, or a side effect of certain medications. The condition cannot be cured but audiologists utilize hearing aids, biofeedback, cognitive therapy, and sound therapy to help patients experience relief.

Visit an audiologist if you are experiencing hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or balance problems. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McGee, Dr. Wigand, or Dr. Long, our knowledgeable audiologists, call South Carolina Institute in Columbia at (803) 424-2208. We also have offices in downtown Columbia, Sumter, Irmo, and Lugoff, SC.

By Carolina Hearing Institute
November 06, 2020
Category: ENT Treatments
Tags: Hearing Protection  

People don’t usually think about how seemingly minor daily noises could affect their hearing. In reality, besides leading to hearing loss, constant noise could likewise be related to other risks that can harm your quality of life and overall health.

If you experience any issues with your hearing, you can consult with one of our audiologists here at Carolina Hearing Institute, in our Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter SC, offices. Dr. Katie McGee, Dr. Jason Wigand, or Dr. Kelly Long can check what’s happening with your ears and recommend the best treatment options for your condition.

Simple Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss

These guidelines can help safeguard your hearing and prevent hearing loss. They will help make certain that your precious ears receive less exposure to damaging noise and enable you to hear properly and clearly for as long as possible. These include:

  • Turning down sources of noise you can control such as when listening to music, watching videos, etc.
  • Keeping your distance from loud noises whenever possible and if you can possibly control the noise.
  • Opt for quieter appliances.
  • Wearing hearing protection whenever necessary. This is very important for people who work with power tools and even those who regularly saw wood or mow their lawn with a high-powered lawnmower.

Hearing Protection Tools

To safeguard your ears from harmful noises and consequently protect your overall health, you can choose from these hearing protection devices:

  • Foam Earplugs: These are crafted from expandable, dermatologically-safe foam. Before you insert them in your ears, you can roll them into a cone shape and they’ll instantly adapt to the shape of your ears once they’re inside your ear canals.
  • Custom Earmolds: This involves taking impressions of your ear canals to fabricate custom-made earmolds. These offer a higher comfort level than other options and may come with different sound filters. Ask your audiologist for custom earplugs specifically designed for swimmers, motorcyclists, and musicians.
  • Capsule Hearing Protection: These look like headphones and offer excellent insulation. You can wear them on your head directly or attached to a helmet.
  • Plastic Earplugs: These feature a cord and grip stems and are easy to remove and insert.

Following the hearing protection advice mentioned above can help ensure that your ears and hearing is always in tiptop shape.

For More Details, Questions, or Concerns About Hearing Protection, We Can Help

Schedule a meeting with your audiologist Dr. Katie McGee, Dr. Jason Wigand, or Dr. Kelly Long here at Carolina Hearing Institute in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter SC.

By Carolina Hearing Institute
August 06, 2020
Category: Otolaryngology
Tags: Hearing Loss   Child Health  

Hearing loss can affect children in several areas, including communication and learning. The good news is there are many ways to treat hearing loss in children. The best approach to helping your child can depend on the cause and type of hearing loss. At Carolina Hearing Institute in Columbia, Lugoff, and Sumter SC, hearing loss in children is treated by our experienced audiologists, Dr. Kathryn McGee, Dr. Kelly Long, and Dr. Jason Wigand, who can develop a treatment plan tailored to your child’s needs.

Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

There are four main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and central. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the eardrum, ear canal, or middle ear. Some causes of conductive hearing loss in children include ear infections, allergies, fluid in the middle ear, a punctured eardrum, or congenital abnormalities of the ear. Your Columbia SC Hearing Loss expert will be able to determine the source.

Sensorineural hearing loss is associated with damage to the auditory nerve and inner ear, which can be due to genetics, a viral infection or disease, a head injury, or exposure to loud noises. Mixed hearing loss in children involves damage to the outer, middle, and inner ear and is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Central hearing loss occurs when the central nervous system fails to send recognizable signals about different sounds to the brain.

Treating Hearing Loss in Children

There are several methods for treating hearing loss in children. The most effective approach often depends on the type of hearing loss your child is experiencing, as well as the cause of it. Some of the options we have for treating hearing loss at our office in Columbia, SC, include:

  • Antibiotics — Used to clear up an ear infection that is causing hearing problems.
  • Ear Tubes — Inserted into the Eustachian tube to help fluids drain from the middle ear.
  • Hearing Aid — Device that enables patients to hear sounds more loudly and clearly.
  • Myringotomy — A procedure that involves piercing the eardrum to allow trapped fluids to drain out of the ear.

In some cases, surgery is the best option for treating hearing loss in a child. For example, surgical intervention can be used to remove a tumor or correct a congenital abnormality that is interfering with a child’s ability to hear clearly. Our Columbia SC Hearing Loss doctors can determine if surgery is necessary to best treat your child’s hearing loss.

Hearing loss can occur in children due to several factors, such as ear infection, allergies, or genetics. Dr. Kathryn McGee, Dr. Kelly Long, or Dr. Jason Wigand can discuss suitable treatment options for your child. For help with your child’s hearing loss, call Carolina Hearing Institute in Columbia SC at (803) 424-2208 to schedule an appointment. For our Lugoff SC office, call 803-424-2208.

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

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