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Tri-State Area’s Only Center for Tinnitus and Decreased Sound Tolerance Opens at Wheeling Hospital

September 26, 2018

WHEELING, W.Va. – At a news conference today, Wheeling Hospital unveiled its new Center for Tinnitus and Decreased Sound Tolerance, the only one of its kind in the tri-state area.

The center is directed by board-certified Audiologist Dr. Brandon Lichtman, one of only 20 audiologists in the U.S. to earn the prestigious certificate in tinnitus and decreased sound tolerance by the American Board of Audiology. The center at Wheeling Hospital is the only one in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, with the nearest center hours away in Ohio.

“There are not many centers dedicated to tinnitus and decreased sound tolerance in the United States, and we are the first in the entire area with such a specialized and dedicated center,” Lichtman said. “My new training provides me additional education above and beyond what is taught at the doctoral level of audiology. With our specialized testing and management options, we can better help patients manage and reduce their awareness, loudness and annoyance of tinnitus.”

Approximately 45 million Americans report the perception of tinnitus, with 30 percent report as a significant daily problem.

“Tinnitus is not an issue patients should be told they have to learn to live with,” Lichtman said. “Tinnitus can be managed successfully and we are here to help.”

While there is no current "cure" for tinnitus, proper diagnostic testing, coupled with proper management techniques, can significantly reduce the awareness, loudness and annoyance of tinnitus. Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the ears and/or head not causes by an external sound source. Some classify tinnitus as a ringing, buzzing, crickets and narrowband noise.

The prevalence and severity of tinnitus increase with age and is greatest in the age population of 60-69; however, tinnitus occurs in children as well. For some, tinnitus has no definitive cause; however, research shows 90 percent of chronic tinnitus sufferers have some degree of hearing loss. Other causes of tinnitus include TMJ and cervical spine disorders.

Decreased sound tolerance is a lowered tolerance of everyday sounds that don’t bother most other people. These sounds are often high-pitched or sounds that begin abruptly (impulse sounds). Examples are reversal beeps on industrial vehicles, clattering of dishes and silverware, dogs barking and road noise. Some people have problems with continuous, low-pitched sounds such as computer fans. These sounds may cause annoyance, physical discomfort or pain. If tinnitus is present, these sounds may cause tinnitus to temporarily spike in loudness.

Some people with decreased sound tolerance report difficulty ignoring sounds. They are aware of many sounds that others don't notice and say they are easily startled by unexpected sounds.

At the new Center for Tinnitus and Decreased Sound Tolerance, “All patients receive detailed testing, and will have the options of further management techniques,” Lichtman said. “Within the management will be a detailed history of tinnitus, possible causes and how it affects each person as a whole. Patients will utilize progressive tinnitus management techniques, otoharmonics or neuromonics technology, or other sound enrichment options depending on their needs.”

Wheeling Hospital has a multidisciplinary approach to patient care; specifically, this new center includes specialists ranging from audiology, physical therapy, psychology and physician care. Patients will return to the center throughout treatment so their progress can be monitored.

In order to be seen in the Center for Tinnitus and Decreased Sound Tolerance, a referral from a primary care physician is required. For more information, call 304-243-7879.

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Contact: Gregg Warren – Vice President, Marketing/Public Relations, 304-243-3260

During a news conference, Dr. Brandon Lichtman announces the opening of Wheeling Hospital’s new Center for Tinnitus and Decreased Sound Tolerance.