Jubilation All Around

I met a young man a few years back who, without a doubt, has added years to my life and life to my years. His name is Tom. Dr. Tom Bocchino. He deals in hearing aids, mostly. The “doctor” in front of his name says he deals in much more. This, however, is about hearing aids. I’ve had experience with hearing aids. When they work, it’s like winning an Oscar. When they don’t, they are crabgrass in the Garden of Eden. Hang in there while I bring you up to date.

The background is that it started with a game of basketball when I was in the eighth grade. Out of nowhere came a fast-traveling basketball. It found a spot on my right ear, and WHAMMO! It blew out my eardrum and left me hurting and wanting. The eardrum was gone. In its place was a terrible roar. I took the roar home and laid awake that night trying to imagine what life would be like from then on. Sleep soothed it, however, and in a few days, life was almost normal. I didn’t tell my parents. My life wasn’t totally fractured, however. Years later, a Charlotte surgeon crafted another eardrum from membrane behind my ear, attached it, and it worked. It worked well for five years, but then it went away, never to return. So, enter for the first time hearing aid No. 1. Not too good.

Ditto for No. 2. No. 3 was like listening to “O Sole Mio” through bank vault doors. It was somewhere in that time frame that Dr. Tom Bocchino, of ENT Carolina, came upon the scene. He looked into my ears and mused. I hate it when they muse. It could mean they are having trouble coming up with the right answer. He admitted that there was a problem; even so, he kept on musing. He put me into an isolation booth (again) and turned some knobs and squeaky little noises appeared from somewhere. He told me this time that my hearing in my good left ear wasn’t bad, but my right-ear hearing was in trouble. He told me what I needed, and a couple of weeks later, I went home with two new aids. Except that one of them was not a hearing aid. That little fellow was an audio transmitter. Sounds within that aid’s jurisdiction were shunted around to be handled by the helper on the other side of my head. It took a little time to adjust. Under the new order, all right-side sounds had to use the right ear for brain passage. Neat. Pass on. Let the brain figure out the rest. That was a short while ago, and I am in the good graces of Tom the miracle worker. He told me then that the aids I would take home were not the total answer, but that the answer was on the way. He was right. It came within the year. Tom grinned as he turned up the volume and watched my smile brighten as the volume increased. This was not a chance encounter with happiness. It had been planned for, directed, mapped. He didn’t tell me how much better these two aids were than the old ones. He didn’t have to. It was like the time I found a shiny, brand-new quarter when I was a kid. It made everything right. Jubilation all around.


Gaston Hearing Center in Belmont, NC

Belmont is a small town located in Gaston County, North Carolina. This town is just 15 miles away from Charlotte and is quite popular for its thriving community and rich history. The first settlements in Belmont took place back in the mid-1700s. The town was officially incorporated in the year 1895. Since then, it has been one of the most popular tourist attractions out there in the region.

History of Belmont

People who are interested in learning more about the history of Belmont can think about visiting the Belmont Historical Society Museum. This museum offers both artifacts and exhibits that showcase the history of the town. For example, you can learn more about the textile industry that thrived here. On top of that, you may also learn about the role of Belmont during the Civil War.

Anyone who wishes to learn more about the history of Belmont may visit Belmont Abbey. It was discovered back in the year 1876. This is identified as one of the oldest Catholic colleges that you can find in the country as of now.

Things to do at Belmont

Apart from learning about history, there are numerous outdoor activities available for you to take part in Belmont. This little town is located alongside the Catawba River. Hence, you can engage yourself in numerous watersports. Moreover, you can also find multiple parks in Belmont, where you can spend time biking and hiking.

Stowe Park is the most popular park that you can find in Belmont as of now. It has a playground and dedicated picnic areas. Moreover, you can also explore a historic carousel, which was constructed back in 1915. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you may think about visiting the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden as well. Then you can get yourself lost in a variety of flowers and plants.

Gaston Hearing Center in Belmont

If you are a person in Belmont with hearing difficulties, you should think about visiting the Gaston Hearing Center. It offers a variety of services for people with hearing difficulties, such as conducting hearing tests, offering hearing aids, and tinnitus evaluation. You can get yourself tested and buy the most appropriate hearing aids under the guidance of specialists at Gaston Hearing Center.

Gaston Hearing Center is a fully locally owned audiology practice. They have been serving the community for more than three decades. You just need to schedule an appointment and you can expect to receive outstanding service from them. Whether you or one of your loved ones is struggling due to hearing difficulty, go ahead and schedule an appointment with Gaston Hearing Center now itself.

The Best Gift You can Give yourself this Holiday Season is your Presence. Read below for some helpful holiday hearing tips.

The Holiday Season has officially begun! It is a magical time of year filled with big family get-togethers and joyful festivities throughout our community.  Unfortunately, for those with hearing loss,  holiday events can cause us to feel isolated, anxious, self-conscious or embarrassed. At Gaston Hearing Center, we have one goal this holiday season. It is to help educate our patients as well as family members on the best communication strategies and hearing aid  technology that can help in challenging listening situations so that you can  be present! We want to ensure you are able to hear little baby Noah’s laugh, hear Aunt Betty tell her story (yes, the same one she tells every year), hear the (hopefully tasteful) joke Uncle Bob just told Cousin Joe, hear Megan talk about her new job, hear the gift wrapping being crumpled up, hear Olivia squeal with delight when she gets the doll she wanted and all the other beautiful sounds the holidays bring. What we don’t want is for you to be the head nodding, smiling bystander… we want you to be part of the conversation because YOU MATTER! Below are some tips to help you survive and thrive this holiday season!

Helpful Holiday Communication Strategies

  1. Attention: Gain the attention of the person you are trying to speak with first. For example, say his/her name, then tap a shoulder or arm lightly or walk in front in his/her sight.
  2. Facial Cues: Make sure you are facing the person. Facial expressions and body language can add vital information to the conversation. Make sure you keep your hands away from your face as well. It also helps to not talk with food in your mouth nor chew gum. 
  3. Speak Clearly: Many people think that if they raise the volume of their voice, that someone will hear them. However, it is better to speak more distinctly, without exaggerating.  Shouting can distort the words.  Speak at a normal rate, not too slow.
  4. Rephrase: If someone does not understand what you said the first time, try stating the phrase or question differently rather than just repeating it.
  5. Background Noise: When conversing, try moving to a quieter area or turn down the background noise or music if possible. When going to a restaurant, ask for a table away from the kitchen or large parties and try to sit with most of the background noise behind  For example, try to sit at a booth in the corner, rather than a table in the middle of the dining room.
  6. Consider a New Hearing Aid: If you’ve been using the same hearing aid for several years, it’s worth a consult to find out if newer technology could be beneficial. Hearing aid technology has advanced rapidly in the last few years and new hearing aids may allow you to hear your loved ones better in challenging listening situations.

If you want to hear better for the holidays, we would love to help! Give Gaston Hearing Center a  call to schedule a hearing evaluation at (704) 829-8319. We listen, so you can hear better!

What is tinnitus? 

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. While it is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can manifest many different perceptions of sound, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking. In some rare cases, tinnitus patients report hearing music. Tinnitus can be both an acute (temporary) condition or a chronic (ongoing) health condition. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears.Tinnitus can be sounds that are so soft you may not notice them or so loud they block out sounds coming from external sources. 

Millions of Americans experience tinnitus, often to a debilitating degree, making it one of the most common health conditions in the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 15% of the general public — over 50 million Americans — experience some form of tinnitus. Roughly 20 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases.

What causes tinnitus? 

Tinnitus (pronounced tin-NY-tus or TIN-u-tus) is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Most commonly, it is a symptom that something is wrong in the auditory system, which includes the ear, the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process sound. In older adults, tinnitus can be the first symptom of hearing loss. But tinnitus can be the result of a number of health conditions, including:

  • Hearing loss
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Earwax
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Diseases of the heart or blood vessels
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid abnormalities
  • Inflammation
  • Starting and stopping certain medications

There are lots of conditions mentioned above that cause tinnitus, but some people can also develop tinnitus for no obvious reason as well. Most of the time, tinnitus isn’t a sign of a serious health problem, although if it’s loud or doesn’t go away, it can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, and problems with memory and concentration. For some, tinnitus can be a source of real mental and emotional distress.

Why do I have this noise in my ears?

Although we hear tinnitus in our ears, its source is really in the networks of brain cells (what scientists call neural circuits) that make sense of the sounds our ears hear. A way to think about tinnitus is that it often begins in the ear, but it continues in the brain.

Scientists still haven’t agreed upon what happens in the brain to create the illusion of sound when there is none. Some think that tinnitus is similar to chronic pain syndrome, in which the pain persists even after a wound or broken bone has healed.

Tinnitus could be the result of the brain’s neural circuits trying to adapt to the loss of sensory hair cells by turning up the sensitivity to sound. This would explain why some people with tinnitus are oversensitive to loud noise.

Tinnitus also could be the result of neural circuits thrown out of balance when damage in the inner ear changes signaling activity in the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound. Or it could be the result of abnormal interactions between neural circuits. The neural circuits involved in hearing aren’t solely dedicated to processing sound. They also communicate with other parts of the brain, such as the limbic region, which regulates mood and emotion.

Should I see my doctor if I have tinnitus?

The first thing is to see your primary care physician. Your primary care physician can check and make sure that there is no earwax or blockage in your ear causing the tinnitus.  Your doctor will also ask you about your current health, medical conditions, and medications to find out if an underlying condition is causing your tinnitus. 

If it is only occasional and temporary (e.g. after spending time in noise), it probably doesn’t require medical treatment. However, you should see your doctor if you are constantly experiencing tinnitus and it doesn’t go away.  If tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness/balance problems, the tinnitus is affecting your ability to function, or the tinnitus is in one ear only, you should also be seen by your physician. 

What happens if I don’t have a medical condition? Is there a treatment?

If your physician has ruled out medical conditions apart from hearing loss, their next step is recommending ways to manage the impact of tinnitus on your life. Here are some examples:

  • Hearing aids. Many people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss. Hearing aids may help provide relief from tinnitus by making sounds louder and the tinnitus less noticeable.  Hearing aids make it easier for you to hear, which may also make it easier for you to ignore tinnitus.
  • Sound generators. These devices produce and deliver sounds to your ears that mask tinnitus. For example, the sound generator may deliver soothing sounds like a shower or quiet rain. Some people may benefit by using hearing aids that include sound generators.
  • Environmental enrichment devices. You can create your own way of masking tinnitus. Tabletop sound machines that generate soothing background noise, recordings of music, nature or other sounds or apps for smartphones and tablets can make tinnitus less noticeable.
  • Relaxation techniques. Tinnitus can be frustrating and stressful. Stress and frustration may make tinnitus more noticeable. Learning techniques to increase relaxation and ease stress can help people better deal with the frustrations of tinnitus.
  • Counseling options. Some people benefit from mental wellness therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These therapies help people learn how to pay less attention to tinnitus.

Can I do anything to prevent tinnitus or keep it from getting worse?

Noise-induced hearing loss, the result of damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. Anything you can do to limit your exposure to loud noise—by moving away from the sound, turning down the volume, or wearing earplugs or earmuffs—will help prevent tinnitus or keep it from getting worse.

Contact Gaston Hearing Center Today!

Your tinnitus may be a mild and an intermittent annoyance. Or maybe it’s severe and has profoundly affected your quality of life. Whatever degree of tinnitus you have, finding relief is a priority and we would love to help! Call Gaston Hearing Center to schedule an appointment today! 704-829-8319.


  • American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgeons. Clinical Practice Guidelines: Tinnitus. (https://www.entnet.org/quality-practice/quality-products/clinical-practice-guidelines/tinnitus/) Accessed 4/18/2022.
  • American Family Physician. Diagnostic Approach to Patients with Tinnitus. (https://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0115/p106.html) Accessed 4/18/2022.
  • American Tinnitus Foundation. Understanding the Facts. (https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts) Accessed 4/18/2022.
  • Merck Manuals. Ear Ringing or Buzzing. (https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/symptoms-of-ear-disorders/ear-ringing-or-buzzing) 4/18/2022.
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Tinnitus. (https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/tinnitus) Accessed 4/18/2022.

Hearing and the Importance of Getting Tested

Hearing screenings should be a consistent part of you and your child’s health care plan. Just like having a yearly physical and eye exams, children and adults should have their hearing checked on a consistent basis. It’s so important to have regular hearing checkups to identify the early warning signs of hearing loss. Hearing problems even in children can be overcome if they’re caught early and can improve language and communication skills. Young adults often suffer from noise-induced hearing loss and aren’t even aware of it, while friends and family can mistake hearing loss in older adults as a cognitive impairment. Since hearing loss often develops slowly over time, you may not be aware of slight or gradual changes in your hearing.

How Can Hearing Loss Occur

There are several factors that contribute to hearing loss such as:

  • Aging
  • Buildup of earwax
  • Ear infection and abnormal bone growths or tumors
  • Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation).
  • Loud noise
  • Heredity
  • Occupational noises
  • Recreational noises: exposure to firearms, jet engines, and other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels like snowmobiling, motorcycling, carpentry or listening to loud music.
  • Some medications
  • Some illnesses

Life Stages for Hearing Screenings

  • Baby. Every child born in a hospital in the US is required by law to be given a hearing test. The earlier a hearing deficit is recognized, the sooner treatments can begin.
  • Children. Sometimes what we perceive to be learning disabilities in school-aged children are actually hearing impairments.
  • Young adults. Noise-induced hearing loss is a becoming more and more common among young adults. When a hearing loss is identified and corrected social interaction and career advancement is easier.
  • Adulthood. About 14% of people from the ages of 45 to 64 have some degree of hearing loss. That rises to more than 30% for people who are 65 or older.
  • Seniors. Approximately one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have some amount of hearing loss, and half of people 75 and older have difficulty hearing. Sometimes this hearing loss is believed to be Alzheimer’s or some other cognitive impairment. It is important that seniors are encouraged to have their hearing tested annually.

Without regular screenings to catch gradual hearing loss as it occurs, relationships can be suffer and feelings of isolation and depression can take over along with loss of interest in social interactions.

Hearing Tests for Adults and Older Children

A hearing test is painless and should take around 30 minutes. Most adults who get hearing tests are asked to wear earphones and listen to short tones that are played at different volumes and pitches into one ear at a time. Whether or not you can hear each sound shows whether or not you can hear high-pitched or low-pitched sounds, quiet or loud sounds, and whether your left or right ear has hearing loss. During some hearing tests, you may also be asked to listen to speech at different volumes, which will be played into one ear at a time. The voices will be played quietly through your earphones, and you’ll be asked to repeat what words were just said. This test is done in a soundproof room, since some people have trouble hearing voices when there’s background noise.

What the Results Mean

While results can show whether you have hearing loss in one/or both ears and how much hearing is gone the intensity of sound is measured in units called decibels. When someone whispers in your ear, that’s 30 decibels. Normal speech is 60 decibels. Shouting in your ear starts at 80 decibels.

Adults with hearing loss up to 25 decibels have normal hearing. Mild hearing loss: 26 to 40 decibels, Moderate hearing loss: 41 to 55 decibels, Moderate-to-severe hearing loss: 56 to 70 decibels, Severe hearing loss: 71 to 90 decibels and Profound hearing loss: 91 to 100 decibels.

Treatment Available

If you have hearing problems, help is available. The right treatment depends on a number of factors, such as severity of hearing loss, the underlying cause, type of hearing loss and your lifestyle. Some options include, but are not limited to, removing wax buildup, surgical procedures, hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive listening devices. Treatments for children are also available, and not limited to, hearing aids, cochlear or brainstem implants, and bone-anchored hearing aids.

How to Get Help

Hearing loss is all too common, but with today’s amazing technology there has never been a better time to seek treatment. If you need help with your hearing, Gaston Hearing Center is here for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.