Works Like A Charm

The sound of a light breeze covers relentless static of tinnitus.

“It’s great to be able to hear better and not hear that constant static in my ears.” -Jeanine

Jeanine Ganier’s friends call her the “Sparkle Queen” because of her love for jewelry. The 59-year-old grandmother fancies jewelry so much that she turned it into a business. After attending several parties for Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski, the direct sales arm of the 126-year-old Austrian company, Jeanine agreed to market its products herself.

“In 2019, I retired as an executive for Pampered Chef after 23 years with the company,” Jeanine relates. “Last year, a friend asked me if I would host a Touchstone crystal party and help someone who is moving to Florida. I said, Sure, I’ll have a party, but I’m not joining.

At first, Jeanine stuck to her guns, but then three of her friends booked parties as well. After attending all three events, her resolve crumbled.

“By the end of the third party I said, For goodness sake, I’m going to sell this stuff,” Jeanine recalls. “After all, it’s all Swarovski crystal and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s high-quality jewelry, which I just adore.”

Jeanine started her business venture in February 2020. She was having a ball hosting parties and interacting with customers. But six weeks later, the coronavirus burst onto the scene, and her expanding clientele proceeded to quarantine.

“My business became a virtual business,” Jeanine shares. “It’s still virtual for the time being, but I look forward to the day when I can get out and host in-person jewelry parties again. They’re super fun for me.”

What’s not fun for Jeanine is the relentless static in her ears. Known clinically as tinnitus, this condition has harassed Jeanine for several years, and has gotten progressively worse over time.

“It’s like a high-pitched static or high-pitched ringing in my ears,” Jeanine describes. “I’ve had it for a good five or six years, maybe longer. The sound is worse in the morning than in the evening because mornings are generally quieter, which makes the static louder. It’s really annoying, and it was making my life miserable.”

In addition to tinnitus, Jeanine has also experienced trouble with hearing loss. She often had to ask her husband to turn up the volume on the television and was constantly asking people to repeat themselves during conversations.

“I went to an ear doctor and underwent several tests and found out the hearing loss was in my right ear,” Jeanine details. “The same doctor addressed the tinnitus and told me nothing could be done about it. That was a very disappointing thing to hear.

“I thought I was going to have to live the rest of my life with this annoying sound in my ears. I felt very discouraged and defeated. I tried not to focus on the sound, but it took over my life.”

Just as Jeanine was about to give up hope, her husband returned from a doctor’s appointment with a copy of Florida Health Care News. In it was an article about Dean Knoblach, BC-HIS, a board-certified hearing instrument specialist at Knoblach Hearing Care in Largo. Dean offers an innovative treatment for tinnitus that, in essence, covers it up. Jeanine was intrigued by the article but didn’t act on it immediately.

“My daughter just had a baby and there was so much going on at that time, but I kept the article,” Jeanine recounts. “It took a good year and a half for me to call Dean. But this year, I decided that after taking care of everyone else it was time for me to take care of myself.”

Jeanine first visited Knoblach Hearing Care in May 2021. During that visit, Dean confirmed the other doctor’s finding of a minor hearing loss in Jeanine’s right ear and listened intently as she described her tinnitus, saying it sounded like static on an old TV tuned to a vacant channel.

“Audiologists rate tinnitus sounds on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being uncomfortably harsh,” Dean educates. “Five is the volume of what our industry calls cold running speech, which equates to the average person’s voice in normal conversation, not speaking loudly, while one is barely audible.

“Jeanine’s tinnitus was a five that never changed. That’s like hearing constant static from a TV only three feet away following you around day and night wherever you go, whatever you do for five years straight. The average person can’t begin to fathom how frustrating that can become.”

Brownian Noise

After conducting a complete hearing evaluation, Dean recommended that Jeanine join a clinical trial investigating advanced hearing devices designed to mask the incessant ringing of tinnitus by replacing it with much softer, more pleasant sounds.

“With tinnitus masking, which our industry now calls sound therapy, we provide a sound through a small wearable device to cover up the tinnitus,” Dean explains. “That can sound like a babbling brook, waves on a beach, an air conditioner or a light breeze. Sound therapy is usually barely audible, but at the same time it can render the tinnitus almost undetectable.”

After trying several versions of sound therapy, Dean chose Brownian noise for Jeanine. Brownian noise is a non-oscillating sound with a low-frequency emphasis that sounds much like a light breeze.

Dean informs: “As long as the sound therapy remains effective, I can keep reducing the volume of it until it’s almost undetectable by the patient yet consistent at covering up the tinnitus.”

Dean explains that in Jeanine’s case, it became the light breeze that totally covered up her annoying television static.

“Brownian noise is a very calming sound,” Jeanine describes.

Working “Wonderfully”

When Jeanine first visited Knoblach Hearing Care, she was convinced the tinnitus affected her right ear alone. As a result, Dean initially treated her right ear only. But no matter what type of therapeutic sound he tried, her incessant static remained.

“That was very odd since I was able to mask the tinnitus quite effectively during her initial hearing evaluation,” Dean commented. “The only difference was that during the initial tests, I had her fit binaurally (with both ears).”

Dean eventually placed devices in both of Jeanine’s ears. She says that solution is working “wonderfully.”

“Unfortunately, If tinnitus is constantly present for over four months and not related to high blood pressure or any medications, it’s usually permanent and can often increase over time.” – Dean

“It’s great to be able to hear better and not hear that constant static in my ears,” Jeanine remarks. “I’m reminded of that every day when I take my devices out to go to bed at night. As I lie in bed, I can hear the loud static again, and I wonder how I ever stood it every day, 24/7.”

Jeanine is also happy with Dean and the exceptional care she receives at Knoblach Hearing Care.

“Dean is very knowledgeable,” she maintains. “You can tell he knows exactly what he’s doing. And he has a heart to help people; that’s what I love about him. He just wants to help. He doesn’t care how many times he has to try. For some, the treatment works on day one. I wasn’t one of those people, but he kept working with me until he got it to work.

“Dean is a great guy. He’s very patient, and it takes a lot of patience to do what he does. I think he’s a saint.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo courtesy of Jeanine Ganier. mkb
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