Hearing Disorders & Dizziness
Hearing loss and deafness affect almost 30 million people in the U.S. Possible causes of hearing loss are divided into three groups: sensorineural (aging, drugs, tumors, current or past infections, congenital or genetic abnormalities, loud noises, sudden changes in air pressure), conductive (ear infection or obstruction, perforated eardrum, cholesteatoma, otosclerosis) and mixed. Whatever the cause, hearing problems can be frustrating and even harmful, especially for children who are undergoing language acquisition and developing speech habits. Most hearing loss is neither preventable nor curable, but hearing aids or cochlear implants may help patients understand speech better and hear quieter or higher-pitched sounds.
The inner ear, or labyrinth, contains structures that amplify and transmit sound to the brain. It also contains the vestibular system, which controls balance. Ear infections, allergies, nerve tumors, Meniere’s disease, mastoiditis, vestibular neuronitis and trauma can all cause a loss of balance, along with other symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hearing loss and pain.
An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses, treats, and manages individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. Audiologists have received a Master's or Doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program. Audiologists determine appropriate patient treatment of hearing and balance problems by combining a complete history with a variety of specialized auditory and vestibular assessments.
Based upon the diagnosis, the audiologist presents a variety of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment or balance problems. Audiologists dispense and fit hearing aids as part of a comprehensive habilitative program.