The Ear Institute offers a wide array of specialized services for the treatment of ear, hearing and balance conditions as well as skull base disorders:
- Acoustic Neuroma / Vestibular Schwannoma
- Aural Atresia
- Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
- Balance Disorders
- BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)
- Cancer of the Ear
- Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak
- Congenital Hearing Loss
- Ear Canal Exostosis
- Ear Drum / Tympanic Membrane Perforation
- Ear Infections
- Endolymphatic Hydrops
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
- Facial Nerve Paralysis
- Glomus Tumors
- Hearing Loss
- Meniere’s Disease
- Otitis Media / Middle Ear Infections
- Otitis Externa / Swimmer’s Ear
- Single Sided Deafness
- Skull Base Tumors and Disorders
- Sudden Hearing Loss
- Superior Semi-Circular Canal Dehiscence
- Temporal Bone Trauma
- Aural Atresia Repair
- Baha Implantable Hearing Device
- Cholesteatoma Resection
- Cholesterol Granuloma Surgery
- Chronic Otitis Media Surgery
- Cochlear Implant
- Ear drum Repair
- Ear Tubes
- Endolymphatic Sac Surgery
- Facial Nerve Surgery
- Implantable Hearing Devices
- Intratympanic Inner Ear Perfusion
- Mastoid Obliteration
- Middle Ear Reconstruction / Ossiculoplasty
- Middle Fossa Approach
- Pediatric Ear Surgery
- Perilymph Fistula Repair
- Posterior Semicircular Canal Occlusion Surgery
- Skull Base Surgery
- Stapes Surgery
- Surgery for Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence
Hearing Health Care
Many people take their hearing for granted, but good hearing health care should be a priority. It affects your quality of life and your ability to communicate with others. Once hearing damage occurs, it is often irreversible; taking proactive steps now can prevent more serious issues from developing down the road.
While age-related hearing loss is common and for the most part unavoidable, other factors such as noise exposure, trauma, certain medications and diseases can also cause hearing impairment. There are steps you can take to help protect your hearing.
When you are exposed to loud noises, either in the workplace or during recreational activities, wear sufficient hearing protection. Activities such as using power tools, riding a motorcycle, or attending a concert can all cause hearing damage, so be sure to use earplugs that offer the appropriate level of protection when participating in events like these. When listening to music over a portable device, keep the volume turned down to a reasonable level.
Water exposure can also cause hearing problems. Be sure to dry them thoroughly after swimming or bathing, or wear specially designed swimmer’s earplugs for protection. Never insert objects into your ear canals to clean them; these can lead to damage or impacted earwax.
Finally, avoid cigarette smoke, as it has been linked to age-related hearing loss.
Regular hearing tests can pinpoint problems early, and increase your options for successful treatment. At The Ear Institute, our team of audiologists is skilled in providing diagnostic hearing tests for patients of all ages. If you would like additional information or wish to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 760-565-3900.
Hearing loss is a common condition, with 1/3 of all adults suffering from some degree of impairment by the age of 65. Age is the leading cause, but there are a number of other factors that can cause diminished hearing. These include noise exposure, trauma, disease, and reactions to certain medicines.
Hearing loss is classified as either conductive (problems in the middle ear) or sensorineural (inner ear disorders) and is measured in degrees ranging from mild to profound. Conductive hearing loss is usually the result of a temporary condition such as impacted earwax, and is often curable. Sensorineural hearing loss involves nerve damage and is rarely curable, but can be treated with hearing aids and assistive listening devices.
Prevention when you’re younger can help you avoid some types of hearing loss as you age. Be sure to wear ear protection when exposed to noisy environments, treat ear infections promptly, keep water out of your ears, and stay up to date on immunizations.
Dizziness and vertigo are common balance disorders that cause unsteadiness, weakness, and the sensation of movement. These occur when the brain receives false signals from the body’s balance and sensory systems, and can be caused by a variety of factors including hypotension, high blood pressure, endocrine system disorders, hyperventilation, heart conditions, and vascular disorders. Conditions such as BPPV, Meniere’s disease, and labyrinthitis are particularly common.
Treatment for vertigo – which is a symptom rather than a disease – varies, depending on the underlying cause. Options include medication, physical or occupational therapy, repositioning exercises, vestibular retraining programs, surgery, and lifestyle modifications.
Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone, located behind the ear. This skull bone contains air chambers that help drain fluids from the middle ear. Mastoiditis is usually caused by an ear infection; bacteria spreads from the middle ear to the mastoid bone, and can cause ear pain and hearing loss, drainage, fever, headache, swelling and redness. It is most likely to affect children. If left untreated, serious health problems may occur. Life-threatening complications include meningitis, blood clots, and brain abscesses.
Treatment with oral antibiotics and eardrops is usually successful. In some cases, surgery to remove part of the bone and drain the middle ear is required, especially if the condition recurs frequently.
Tympanic membrane perforation
A tympanic membrane perforation, or ruptured eardrum, is a hole in the eardrum – the thin membrane that separates the middle ear from the ear canal. It can occur as the result of an ear infection, trauma to the ear, pressure changes in the middle ear (frequently associated with air travel or scuba diving), sudden loud sounds (e.g. explosions or gunshots), or a puncture from an object inserted in the ear canal, such as a cotton swab or safety pin. It can cause hearing loss and make a person more susceptible to infections and other injuries.
Most ruptured eardrums heal on their own without treatment. Symptoms include ear pain, fluid drainage, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), vertigo, nausea and vomiting. If the perforation doesn’t close by itself within a few weeks, treatment options include antibiotics or eardrops to prevent infection, medications to reduce pain and swelling, an eardrum patch, or surgery (known as tympanoplasty) to repair the hole with a skin graft.
Congenital aural atresia indicates an absent or underdeveloped ear canal. It can affect one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) ears. There are varying degrees of severity associated with this condition; some patients may completely lack an ear canal and other middle ear structures, while others experience partial development. It is often associated with microtia, a condition in which the outside of the ear doesn’t develop correctly.
Children born with aural atresia are likely to experience delayed language and speech skills, and are prone to ear infections. If a CT scan indicates the middle and inner ear have developed sufficiently, atresia repair surgery is performed. An otologist, or ear surgeon, will create an ear canal and eardrum relying on skin grafts to line the canal. It is generally recommended to delay the surgery until the child is at least 5 years old.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss involves nerve damage to the inner ear, and is the most common type of hearing loss. Symptoms include difficulty hearing in noisy situations, especially when there is background noise present; difficulty following conversations involving two or more people; trouble differentiating high-pitched sounds from one another; and feeling that others are mumbling or slurring their speech. It may be accompanied by dizziness or tinnitus.
A variety of factors can cause sensorineural hearing loss. These include exposure to loud noises, viruses and diseases, head trauma, aging (presbycusis), otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, tumors, and hereditary conditions (hearing loss that runs in the family).
Sensorineural hearing loss is usually incurable, though some conditions can be treated medically or surgically. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive listening devices are effective treatment options that help enhance the quality of life for many with this type of hearing loss.
Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that causes tinnitus, vertigo, and hearing loss. Its exact cause is unknown, though symptoms are triggered by fluid buildup. It tends to strike people between the ages of 40 and 60.
Those with Meniere’s experience progressively worsening attacks that last in duration from 20 minutes to 24 hours. In addition to fluctuating hearing loss and vertigo that may be severe, patients may experience fullness or pressure in the ear, blurred vision, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, trembling, rapid pulse, and diarrhea. Attacks may occur on a regular basis, as often as several times a week, or might only happen every few years. There is no cure for Meniere’s, but treatments aimed at reducing the severity of attacks have proven effective. These include reducing sodium intake, using diuretics, taking medications to control vertigo and nausea, and vestibular rehabilitation therapy to help train the brain to deal with balance issues.