Meet Christina Gabler, Au.D.

ChristinaChristina Gabler, Au.D. helps patients in our Mesa office. She has been practicing Audiology at the Mesa location for a couple years.  Prior to AHG, she worked with the ENT patients.  She has completed clinical rotations throughout the Phoenix valley, as well as 1 ½ years at the Nevada School of Medicine and the Clark County School District. She has worked with patients ranging from 8 hours to over 100 years old.

Dr. Gabler is a native Phoenician, having attended High School at Sunnyslope High in Phoenix, AZ. She obtained by undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Deaf Studies at The University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.  Her Clinical Doctor of Audiology degree was obtained from A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. Completing graduate school and buying her own home are accomplishments that top of the list of her proudest moments.

Before pursuing her doctorate in Audiology, she was a speech therapist at a school for special needs children in Phoenix.  Dr. Gabler believes her four (4) years of experience at that school helped her to be a better practitioner today.

Dr. Gabler dreams of traveling the world.  In fact, one of her most ardent dreams is to eat and drink her way through Italy! It will happen someday! Her favorite thing to do is to play with her 3-year-old black lab/shar pei rescue and 1 ½ year old Maltese.  She is a crafting queen and love to hunt for good ideas and recipes on Pinterest.  She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with friends.

Dr. Gabler’s lifetime goal is to help as many people as possible. For her, the most rewarding part of her career it to see a person reconnect with their family through better hearing. Her motto is simple; laughter is always the best medicine and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you are missing out.

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Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is one of the most common health conditions in the United States, and currently affects more than 50 million Americans. This disorder can present as a temporary condition or a chronic one; according to the American Tinnitus Association, it is estimated that roughly 20 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, and 2 million with extreme debilitating symptoms. So what exactly is tinnitus and how is it treated?

By definition, tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. Many people describe it as a constant ringing in the ears, however that is only one type of sound. Tinnitus can present itself as a hissing, buzzing, swooshing, whistling or even clicking in the ears. The majority of patients develop this disorder as a secondary condition of hearing loss.  As less outside sound stimuli travels to the brain due to hearing loss, the brain undergoes neuroplastic changes in how it processes the various sound frequencies, and tinnitus is the result.

While there is ongoing and promising research being done for the treatment of this condition, currently there is no proven cure for chronic tinnitus. Audiologists focus on managing the condition and finding the right combination of tools to allow patients to find relief and live productive lives. The most common treatment of symptoms is through utilization of hearing aids, sound therapies and behavioral therapies. By concentrating on the emotional and cognitive impact of tinnitus they allow patients to find ways to cope with the sound and redirect the brain to focus on other sounds.

Just because there is not currently a proven cure for tinnitus, does not mean that sufferers should not receive some form of treatment. Treating the symptoms of this disorder will stave off some of the more severe consequences of untreated tinnitus such as: depression, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, stress, lack of concentration and sleep issues. There are several different treatments available to help overcome the burden of tinnitus including the following:

  • Sound Therapy – Since tinnitus is a non-auditory internal sound produced by the brain, utilizing real external sounds can help to counteract or mask the sound of tinnitus.
  • Hearing Aids – Due to the fact that the majority of tinnitus patients have some form of hearing loss, treating the hearing loss and allowing external sounds to once again reach the brain, can often relieve tinnitus symptoms.
  • Behavioral Therapy – Since tinnitus can cause some serious emotional issues such as depression, anger and anxiety, focusing on the patient’s emotional reaction to the condition and giving them the tools to manage that reaction can be one of the most effective treatments.
  • Drug Therapy – There are not any medications that can cure or alleviate tinnitus, however many patients use anti-anxiety or anti-depression drugs to help control their emotional reaction to the condition, giving them some relief.

Here at Advanced Hearing Group we see tinnitus patients on a daily basis and understand the pain and frustration of this condition. Our audiologists have several options that, depending on the severity of the tinnitus, will help overcome the burden of this disorder. Check out our website for a list of hearing aids specifically designed with tinnitus treatment options.

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Meet Dr. Briana Thornton, Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Briana Thornton Dr. Briana Thornton with her husband and children

This month, we are excited to introduce to you one of our doctors of audiology, Dr. Briana Thornton. As we expand our practice, we want you to get to know the people you’ll be working with – their background, education and even their interests and hobbies. As we build relationships with our patients and their families, we hope to continue to get to know you too.

Dr. Thornton studied for her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Science and Disorders at Northern Arizona University, and completed her Doctorate of Audiology at A.T. Still University.  She remained close to her alma mater as an adjunct faculty there and is also a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. When it comes to audiology, Dr. Thornton has a special interest in adult and pediatric diagnostics and rehabilitation through the use of prescribed hearing devices carefully selected based on individual necessity. By working closely with her patients, she enjoys creating a plan to improve hearing that fits an individual lifestyle, as she knows that everyone has different needs and wants.

Her interests in pediatric audiology come from a background in working with children. Previously, she worked at Mesa Public Schools as the district audiologist.  Now she calls the Advanced Hearing Group practice in Mesa home. As she continues a career in audiology, she hopes to continue to work with students in her field as their preceptor and develop her skills along with theirs as a knowledgeable and caring audiologist for the adult and pediatric population.  She has many goals for her career which include working more with ABRs, adult and pediatric as well as cochlear implants, as well as enhancing her pediatric testing and diagnostic skills so that she can one day pass the skills on to students in the audiology program as their professor.

When not in the Mesa office, Dr. Thornton enjoys spending time at home with her husband and her two amazing children – also her greatest accomplishment. Whether making crafts or just being outdoors, time with her family is always well spent.

Are you in need of a caring, energetic audiologist who will work with you, consider your individual needs and put you first? Come on in to the Mesa location and meet Dr. Briana Thornton!

 

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Bone and Joint Health Related to Your Hearing

Osteoporosis and hearing loss54 million Americans have low bone mass, also known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis happens when your body loses too much bone mass or doesn’t make enough bone mass, creating porous bones. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with your hearing health and why we’re posting a blog about this bone condition, right? Well, several studies have shown the link between your bone strength and your hearing. Researchers studying people with osteoporosis found that people with this condition had an increased likelihood of experiencing sudden hearing loss. After learning a little more about what these studies were about, it actually makes more sense.

Most people assume that because there are bones in your ears, that is what becomes affected and your hearing loss occurs over time. This is true, as the disease causes demineralization and weakens the bones to the point that they become very fragile and are easily broken. The auditory system has three small bones that are susceptible to the effects of osteoporosis and when they are damaged, sound is unable to be efficiently transferred to the auditory nerve. But there is a little bit more to the puzzle we’ve learned. In fact, research shows that osteoporosis may also affect your cardiovascular system. This in turn leads to a blood circulation issue which is one known cause for sudden hearing loss. If blood cannot flow, nutrients are not making it into your ears and they need these nutrients to stay healthy. Inflammation may also play a key role in the higher incidence of people with osteoporosis having sudden hearing loss. Who knew there could be this link, right?

So now we know that people associated with the condition of osteoporosis are more likely to experience sudden hearing loss, but we need to know a little more about why. In the meantime, anyone who has this bone and joint condition should pay careful attention to their hearing and take good care of it. It is important to protect your hearing from too much loud exposure (ear plugs can help), keep your ears dry, turn the volume down when wearing headphones, take medications only as directed and more. Our audiologists are always available to answer questions or test your hearing. For people who are already suffering from hearing loss, we also offer a variety of effective hearing aids to support your hearing needs and improve your quality of life. Osteoporosis is one condition that you will have to pay attention to for the rest of your life, don’t let hearing loss add to your stress.

 

 

 

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Introducing our Doctors: Gary M. Johnson II, Au.D.

Dr. Gary JohnsonThis month we are featuring Dr. Gary Johnson in our plan to introduce all the fine folks at Advanced Hearing Group. We pride ourselves on choosing only the most talented, caring professionals to be a part of our staff and we think you’ll agree that Dr. Johnson is a true standard of everything an audiologist should be!

Dr. Johnson’s educational background includes a Bachelor Degree in Communication Disorders and Psychology and a Clinical Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Connecticut. He completed his externship right here at Advanced Hearing Group in 2007.

During his residency, he came to love Arizona and the people who welcomed him into the community. By 2008, Dr. Johnson was the primary provider for the two Advanced Hearing Group locations in Scottsdale and helped in the Mesa location as needed.  His commitment to his patients and his love for helping them successfully manage their hearing health grew until he took the big step and purchased both the North Scottsdale and South Scottsdale locations in 2011. We love that story – from resident to owner – that’s exactly the way it should be!

Dr. Johnson and his wife, Vikki (who also is very involved in the Advanced Hearing Group practice) are the proud parents of two children, Axel (10) and Dylan (8). The boys are heavily involved in sports and loving the freedom of summer vacation. As a family, the Johnsons enjoy traveling – especially to the beach, volunteering, and sports (GO UCONN!).

Dr. Johnson says his greatest accomplishment this far is successfully running a business in which he can support his family, help his patients, give back to the community, and provide employment opportunities. We agree – that’s a huge accomplishment from which so many benefit!  His future goals include continuing to grow the Advanced Hearing Group organization and remaining a pillar in the community.

We asked Dr. Johnson if there was anything he’d like to share with our readers and here is his response:

I am passionate about raising awareness about hearing loss and the correlation between multiple co-morbidities (disease states). I believe it is important for the health community to understand the success rate of early intervention and the assistance it can have in successful treatment to our patients.

So, if you are looking for a truly caring audiologist who is committed to your lifelong health, Dr. Johnson is the best. He can be found at either Scottsdale location and is always accepting new patients.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Music to Your Ears – Until it Does Damage

musiciansMusicians are known for having good ears; they hear notes and sounds, melodies and harmonies and can distinguish one instrument for another. They recognize songs, artists and know how to stay in tune. But what happens if the hearing of a musician starts to diminish? What happens to their joy and their livelihood? If you or someone you love is a musician, you’ll want to keep reading. Hearing loss in musicians is incredibly prevalent yet often it can be prevented through proper hearing protection devices which can protect the ears from the loud sounds and music they make.

Professional musicians are almost four times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss than other people. That’s a pretty serious statistic and the type of music doesn’t seem to be a major factor. Classical musicians and rock musicians all are in danger of hearing loss. One of the largest studies to date on the topic of hearing disorders claimed these findings as they linked to people who pursue music as an occupation. The German researchers who combed through health insurance records of 7 million people from 2004 to 2008 found that working musicians topped the charts for hearing loss.

The findings are new but the problem of hearing loss in musicians certainly isn’t. Experts and doctors have been warning musicians to protect their hearing for decades and some of the most well-known musicians are paying the price these days. Over time, the damage adds up. They are also at a higher risk of suffering from tinnitus or a constant ringing in their ears – about 57 percent more likely to suffer tinnitus, that is. Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, can be caused by sudden loud noises like gunshots or explosions, or it can happen over time. Repeated exposure to loud noise, like that in which musicians may be exposed to if they don’t wear hearing protection, can damage microscopic hair cells, known as stereocilia, that line the ear. Those hair cells don’t grow back, so the loss is permanent. In many people, it leads to muffled or distorted sounds or the need to use hearing aids to amplify sound.

To protect hearing, our audiologists can help fit you or your loved one with an ear mold or other hearing protection devices to minimize the volume and reduce damage. If you suspect that damage has already occurred and hearing loss is evolving, a hearing aid may be right for you. Our trained experts can work to find the perfect hearing aid for your hearing loss and your lifestyle. Hearing loss is a gradual process that may not be noticed for years. When it does happen, people generally notice that speech is mumbled and unclear. Musicians whose hearing is suffering are losing a bit of their quality of life. Enjoy your hearing for years to come and see one of our staff members at any of our locations for more information and enjoy the music!

 

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What is Swimmer’s Ear?

The human ear is quite a remarkable organ – yet one of the most delicate organs in the body. We rely on our ears for hearing well as our equilibrium, and if the ear is injured or infected in any way, it can cause hearing loss and balance  issues. One of the more common problems that can occur in our ears is a condition known as swimmer’s ear. This condition got its name because it is prevalent among swimmers, however swimming is not the only cause of swimmer’s ear.

Swimmer’s ear is technically acute external otitis, or in other words, an infection of the outer ear canal. This type of infection is often caused as a result of water remaining in the ear, usually from swimming or bathing. The damp environment in the ear canal promotes bacterial growth, which left untreated can cause some serious complications, including hearing lossExcess moisture isn’t the only cause of swimmers ear however, injury to the delicate lining of the ear canal can also lead to infection.

Individuals who use cotton swabs, their fingernails or other objects to clean their ears, often scratch the delicate lining of the ear canal, leaving it vulnerable to infection. Ear buds and even hearing aids have also been known to scratch or damage the ear canal, which can lead to swimmers ear as well. Fortunately, swimmers ear is treatable, but left unchecked, can not only cause hearing loss, but chronic ear infections, deep tissue infections and even cartilage and bone loss.

The beginning symptoms of swimmer’s ear are itching in the ear canal, redness, discomfort and drainage of fluid. If the infection progress, it can cause more intense itching and pain as well as a discharge of pus, along with a fever and a muffled sound or loss of hearing. It is highly recommended to call your doctor if you are experiencing even mild signs or symptoms of swimmers ear. The earlier you get it treated, the less chance of lasting damage to the ear.

Your physician will usually prescribe ear drops to clear up the infection. In most cases, the drops will contain a combination of antibiotics, anti-fungal medication and steroids in an acidic solution that will help restore the ear’s normal antibacterial properties. If the ear canal is swollen shut, it is possible that your doctor will insert a thin roll of medicated cotton gauze until the swelling subsides. Taking over the counter pain medication during this time should also help with any pain associated with the infection.

As audiologists who prescribe hearing aids to many of our patients, we like to remind them to be very careful when inserting or removing their hearing aids. Rough handling of their aids cans cause the ear canal to get scratched, which is a perfect opportunity for infection to take hold. Other ways to prevent swimmer’s ear is to always make sure to thoroughly dry your ears after being in the water, never put a foreign object into your ears to clean them and avoid swimming in any unclean water.

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Dangers of Smoking Extend to Your Hearing Health

smoking causes hearing lossThis day and age, most people are wise enough to know that smoking causes damage to your health. What many people may not realize, though, is that smoking damages more than your lungs or cardiac health – smoking also affects your hearing. Smoking isn’t as popular as it was just a few decades ago, but the risks associated with smoking haven’t improved. Adults who smoke are 70% more likely to experience hearing loss! That’s a HUGE number for such an unknown risk. If you knew this before you started smoking, would you have even started? Maybe. Would you have smoked if you pictured yourself wearing hearing aids in your middle age? Probably not. It’s never too late. Your hearing health matters and if you’re suffering from signs of hearing loss these days, our audiologists are ready to assist you.

It is estimated that one in five Americans, or roughly 20% of the US population are smokers. For many people, it soothes their mood and their nerves. For others, it is just a physical habit that’s very hard to let go of. But before you light that next cigarette, know the risks. For example, nicotine as well as some of the other toxic substances found in cigarettes damages both the middle ear mechanisms as well as the inner ear. Nicotine has also been shown to impair the brain’s ability to hear and interpret sounds. Nicotine can affect the chemical messengers (a.k.a neurotransmitters) in the auditory nerve and aren’t able to accurately tell the brain what kind of sound is really being processed.

Research also concludes that nicotine and carbon monoxide that result from smoking tighten your blood vessels, including the ones in your ears. This restricts the blood flow and the life-giving oxygen in the inner ear. The tiny hair cells in the cochlea that are responsible for translating sound vibrations into electrical impulses for the brain, suffer damage due to this type of asphyxiation.

It all sounds pretty confusing in these scientific terms, but our audiologists can help explain the dangers of smoking on your hearing in ways that you can understand. It’s quite simple in a way – quitting smoking can help reduce your risk of hearing loss. If you already notice some damage, we can evaluate your hearing and help provide treatment. Set them down, throw them out, give it up. Your hearing and your overall health is well worth it, wouldn’t you agree? If not for you, consider the dangers to those around you and their hearing health, too.

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Introducing our Doctors: Kelly Lewis, Au.D., F-AAA

Dr. Kelly LewisHere at Advanced Hearing Group in Scottsdale, we believe we have some of the best audiologists around; they are exceptionally talented at what they do, but they also practice with a true commitment to our patients, and firmly believe in the philosophy of “hear well, live well.”  We would like you to get to know them as well as we do, which is why we decided to take some time and introduce some of them to you. This month we are featuring Dr. Kelly Lewis, who has been practicing at both our North Scottsdale and South Scottsdale locations since May, 2015.

Dr. Kelly chose to become an audiologist because of her passion for communication, and her love of helping others. From middle school and throughout graduate school she has been involved in organizations that focus on communication; she organized the hearing screening for the Special Olympics of Missouri, she has worked as a writing tutor, has studied Spanish and American Sign Language and even helped organize a “Senior Prom” for residents at a senior living facility.

After graduating high school, Dr. Kelly attended Missouri State University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders as well as her Doctorate of Audiology. Her clinical rotations allowed her to gain experience in both hospital settings as well as private practice. While working at an Ear Nose and Throat Clinic in Tucson, Arizona she honed her skills in diagnostic testinghearing aids and vestibular evaluations for dizziness.

Dr. Kelly just recently married her husband Nate, and when she isn’t thinking about new and creative ways to organize and decorate their home together (thanks to HGTV), you will probably find her doing some yoga or out biking or hiking with her husband. We are thrilled to have Dr. Kelly practicing in our audiology offices here in Scottsdale, she is a true asset to Advanced Hearing Group as well as to her patients.

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What I wish everyone knew about hearing loss

If you don’t live with hearing loss, then it’s hard to understand what someone with hearing loss is going through. It’s  a lot more than not hearing what people say, there are layers of emotional, social and physical effects of hearing loss. So next time you’re around someone you love who is suffering from hearing loss, listen to what they have to say while you still have the chance and the ability. Plus, people who live without the benefits of hearing aids to support their hearing needs could also use someone to trust. Being supportive and aware of what options a loved one with hearing loss has can also help them choose the right path of treatment.

There is a recent blog entry that was written so eloquently on behalf of millions of Americans currently suffering from hearing loss from Living with Hearing Loss by Shari Eberts. There are some things that everyone should know about hearing loss. It will make you a better family member and friend. Or, if you happen to be someone living with a hearing disorder, it’s always nice to know you’re not alone.

Eberts acknowledges that hearing loss can be very tiring and demanding. Hearing when you can’t actually does take work. It’s not an automatic function and the person must turn sounds into a word or phrase that makes sense in the context of the conversation. This is exhausting mentally since a conversation doesn’t usually take a pause for the person to process extra.

Then, there are people who think that a person with hearing loss is rude or maybe even just plain stupid. A person with hearing loss may answer questions incorrectly because they didn’t hear well, or they may have simply misunderstood what you said. Not responding typically means the person just didn’t hear, they probably aren’t actually ignoring you. Be patient and be kind.

Hearing aids work differently than say, glasses. As Eberts explains, hearing aids amplify sounds, but this only makes them louder, not necessarily crisper or clearer. Some hearing aids also have a tough time differentiating among sounds so that background noises like the hum of the refrigerator or the air conditioner may be amplified in addition to the more important sounds of conversation. This can actually make it harder to hear in certain situations! They do not fix hearing loss for every patient either.

Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to speak for someone with hearing loss. This is a competent adult who doesn’t need an interpreter. If they miss the question or ask for someone to repeat it, you don’t need to do it for them. This can be very humiliating and demeaning for someone who is already going through so much.

Lastly, there are a few simple things that you can do when you’re talking to someone with hearing loss. Face the person and make sure they can read your lips. Don’t try to talk to the person from a different room or location. Be present and be visible. Get the person’s attention before you start the conversation or story, too.

Consider the other person’s feelings first, their pain and their suffering just for a moment. Encourage them to talk to one of our audiologists. We may be able to help them with their hearing loss, but your support will always be the greatest thing for them. To read the full blog, click here http://livingwithhearingloss.com/2016/01/19/five-things-i-wish-everyone-knew-about-hearing-loss/

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