Gone in 60 Seconds

After a lifetime of suffering, Sheri finally found a fix for her tinnitus.

Sheri Edel

Sheri Edel

Sheri Edel was working in manufacturing when she experienced “a God moment.” It hit her that it was time for a major change in her life. After speaking to her pastor, she took a leap of faith and accepted a job as the Christian education director for her church.

“I held that position for nine years and absolutely loved it, loved the children,” Sheri says. “Then I decided kind of late in my life that I was ready for something different. I wanted to help people in some way, and medical coding came to mind. I went to school online for 14 months and became a certified professional coder.”

It didn’t take long for Sheri to get a job once she earned her certification. She was quickly hired by a local health system to do the coding for their family practice and inpatient services.

“Every time doctors see a patient, they record what’s wrong with the patient in the chart,” Sheri describes. “Every diagnosis has a code. There are more than 50,000 codes for 2021, so my coding book is 3 inches thick. After the doctors record what they find during the patient’s visit, I code it and bill it to the payers. It’s a job I love, so I’m very happy I made the change.”

For a long time, Sheri wished for another change in her life, one that would eliminate the maddeningly incessant ringing in her ears, a condition known as tinnitus.

“I’ve suffered with tinnitus all my life, and I’m in my 60s now,” she elaborates. “I remember it being there during my teenage years because it bothered me in school. The sound is like a very high-pitched electrical tone. There were times it was barely there and times it was so bad I wanted to pull out my hair. I often lost sleep because of it.

“I tried many remedies. I tried all the tinnitus drops and all the little tricks you find online, but nothing worked. Then one Sunday, I saw a copy of Florida Health Care News and there was a huge article about Dean and Kathleen Knoblach and their practice. I read the testimonial and thought, If anybody can help me with my tinnitus, I think Dean can. I called the next day and made an appointment.”

Dean Knoblach, BC-HIS, is a board-certified hearing instrument specialist at Knoblach Hearing Care in Largo. Dean’s wife, Kathleen Knoblach, HAS, is a licensed specialist who also works at the family practice.

“I have dealt with tinnitus for so many years and I finally have peace.”- Sheri

When Sheri arrived at Knoblach Hearing Care, Dean spoke to her at length about her symptoms. After a complete hearing evaluation, he recommended she join a clinical trial investigating advanced devices that can mask out the incessant ringing of tinnitus by replacing it with another much softer, more pleasant sound. Sheri agreed.

“Dean described the device as pulling down the shade on the squealing in my ears,” Sheri recalls. “With the study, I wear the device in my ears for a period of time, and if it doesn’t work, there’s nothing on me. I thought, I’ve got nothing to lose.

Tailored Technology

For many people, tinnitus comes in the form of a buzzing, ringing or even cricket-like sound. In reality, it is a phantom noise without any acoustic stimulation, which means the sufferer can’t just walk away from it.

The moment when Sheri’s lifetime of constant ringing finally stopped.

“More than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus,” Dean reports. ”A Johns Hopkins study concluded that in 45 million of those cases some level of acoustic damage to the auditory nerve is at the center of it all. That means most cases of tinnitus are irreversible and inoperable, and medications won’t help.”

It also means there has been little help — until recently. With the advent of digital tinnitus maskers, relief for many is a hearing exam away.

A tinnitus masker, like the one Dean recommended for Sheri, is a hearing device that can be programmed to produce its own masking sound. It can be set to sound like a waterfall in the distance, a babbling brook or waves on a sandy beach.

“Like a blanket of comforting sound that can effectively cover up the tinnitus, tinnitus maskers push the annoying sound way off into the distance,” Dean explains. “This in turn helps to trick the brain into not noticing the tinnitus.”

Several hearing aid manufacturers carry this masking feature in their high-end models, but the specifics of each device varies.

“Since more than 90 percent of all tinnitus involves some sort of acoustic trauma, each and every case is different,” Dean says. “It’s our job at Knoblach Hearing Care to determine what combination of particular technology and settings is necessary to properly address each individual’s needs. There is never one model that works for all, but with the right technology and proper settings, nearly all cases are correctable.”

Peace, Finally

Tinnitus masking is not a miracle cure, but it can make a miraculous difference. It did for Sheri, who now hears a faint whisper instead of an annoying squeal.

“Dean said I could choose whatever masking sound I wanted, so I chose white noise. It totally masks the tinnitus,” Sheri says.

“I have dealt with tinnitus for so many years and I finally have peace. I wanted to cry. It’s amazing. So are Dean and Kathleen. They really are the most wonderful people. When I walk into Knoblach Hearing Care, I feel like I’m with old friends. They’re absolutely fantastic!”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos courtesy of Sheri Edel. mkb
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