We invite you to visit for a consultation with one of our fellowship-trained, board-certified physicians who specializes in otology and neurotology. Our physicians treat all ear and hearing disorders in both children and adults. After examination and testing, an individualized diagnosis and treatment plan is developed. Treatment can consist of medicine, surgery, counseling, and/or rehabilitative measures. Consultations are also available with our audiologists for your hearing needs.

 

 

More information about many of the disorders we treat and available treatment options is available by clicking on the links below.

Please note: Our health information provides a basic overview of diagnoses and treatment for many diseases and disorders of the ear. This information is provided for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical care or consultation.

 

Hearing Loss

Many people have hearing loss and are either not aware of it or do not want to admit they have a problem. People of all ages experience gradual hearing loss, often due to the natural aging process or long exposure to loud noise. Other causes of hearing loss include viruses or bacteria, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medications. Treatment for hearing loss will depend on your diagnosis. Our physicians and audiologists are experts at diagnosing and treating your specific type of hearing loss.

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The ear is a sophisticated organ that transmits the sounds we hear into electrical impulses that are interpreted by the brain. The process of hearing and interpreting sound is accomplished at a fantastic speed. To achieve this remarkable feat, each part of the ear – outer, middle and inner ear – fulfills a specific function.

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Conductive hearing loss is one of two main categories of hearing loss, the other being sensorineural hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss may result from diseases that affect the external ear or middle ear structures.

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More than three million American children have hearing loss, and an estimated 1.3 million of them are under three years of age. Most children with hearing loss are diagnosed in a screening prior to their hospital discharge as a newborn. In others, parents and grandparents are usually the first to discover hearing loss in a baby because they spend the most time with them. If at any time you suspect your baby has hearing loss, discuss it with your doctor.

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A cochlear implant is an electronic device that restores partial hearing in individuals with severe to profound hearing loss who do not benefit from a conventional hearing aid. It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike a hearing aid, it does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, the device bypasses damaged parts of the auditory system and directly stimulates the nerve of hearing, allowing individuals who are profoundly hearing impaired to receive sound.

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The Baha or Ponto is a hearing system which offers an advance in hearing technology and is designed for certain people with conductive or mixed hearing loss and for people with single-sided deafness- deaf in one ear.

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Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus or head noises. It may be an intermittent sound or an annoying continuous sound in one or both ears. Its pitch can go from a low roar to a high squeal or whine. Prior to any treatment, it is important to undergo a thorough examination and evaluation by your otologist and audiologist. An essential part of the treatment will be understanding tinnitus and its causes.

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Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) is an inflammatory condition of the inner ear. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks cells in the inner ear that are mistaken for a virus or bacteria. Prompt medical diagnosis is essential to ensure the most favorable prognosis. Therefore, recognizing the symptoms of AIED is important: Sudden hearing loss in one ear progressing rapidly to the second and continued loss of hearing over weeks or months, a feeling of ear fullness, vertigo, and tinnitus. Treatments primarily include medications but hearing aids and cochlear implants are helpful to some.

Hyperacusis is a condition that arises from a problem in the way the brain’s central auditory processing center perceives noise. It can often lead to pain and discomfort. Individuals with hyperacusis have difficulty tolerating sounds which do not seem loud to others, such as the noise from running faucet water, riding in a car, walking on leaves, dishwasher, fan on the refrigerator, and shuffling papers. Although all sounds may be perceived as too loud, high frequency sounds may be particularly troublesome.

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Otosclerosis is an inherited disease in which the bone around the stapes (the third hearing bone) hardens and then fails to vibrate effectively. This can cause a significant conductive hearing loss. The great thing about this cause of hearing loss is that it is often solved by an outpatient surgery.

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One in 10 Americans suffers from hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. While age-related hearing loss is the most common cause, loss due to noise continues to be a significant problem. Unlike the natural process of aging, limiting nerve damage from noise is avoidable.

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Ear problems are the most common medical complaint of airplane travelers, and while they are usually simple, minor annoyances, they may result in temporary pain and hearing loss. Make air travel comfortable by learning how to equalize the pressure in the ears instead of suffering from an uncomfortable feeling of fullness or pressure.

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Travel is an important part of our lives. Whether for business or vacation, traveling can be as stressful as it is enjoyable, and for more than 20 million people in the U.S. with hearing loss, travel can be especially difficult. There are many things that hearing-impaired people can do to help make their travels safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. Don’t avoid travelling because of hearing loss. Planning ahead and informing your fellow travelers, transportation hosts, and hotel clerks that you are hearing-impaired are a few suggestions to help your trip run smoothly. Lastly, obtain any necessary devices—and enjoy yourself!

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Chronic Ear Diseases and Infections

The most common cause of hearing loss in children is otitis media, the medical term for a middle ear infection or inflammation of the middle ear. This condition can occur in one or both ears and primarily affects children due to the shape of the young Eustachian tube. It is the most frequent diagnosis for children visiting a physician. When left undiagnosed and untreated, otitis media can lead to infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear, a ruptured ear drum, and hearing loss. If treated appropriately, hearing loss related to otitis media can be alleviated.

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An infection of the outer ear structures caused when water gets trapped in the ear canal leading to a collection of trapped bacteria is known as swimmer’s ear or otitis externa. In this warm, moist environment, bacteria multiply causing irritation and infection of the ear canal. Although it typically occurs in swimmers, bathing or showering can also contribute to this common infection. In severe cases, the ear canal may swell shut leading to temporary hearing loss and making administration of medications difficult.

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Earwax (also known as cerumen) is produced by special glands in the outer part of the ear canal and is designed to trap dust and dirt particles keeping them from reaching the eardrum. Usually the wax accumulates, dries, and then falls out of the ear on its own or is wiped away. One of the most common and easily treatable causes of hearing loss is accumulated earwax. Using cotton swabs or other small objects to remove earwax is not recommended as it pushes the earwax deeper into the ear, increasing buildup and affecting hearing. Excessive earwax can be a chronic condition best treated by a physician.

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A cholesteatoma is a skin growth that occurs in the middle ear behind the eardrum. This condition usually results from poor eustachian tube function concurrent with middle ear infection (otitis media), but can also be present at birth. The condition is treatable, but can only be diagnosed by examination. Over time, untreated cholesteatoma can lead to bone erosion and spread of the ear infection to localized areas such as the inner ear and brain.

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Ear tubes are tiny cylinders placed through the ear drum (tympanic membrane) to allow air into the middle ear. They also may be called tympanostomy tubes, myringotomy tubes, ventilation tubes, or PE (pressure equalization) tubes.

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A perforated eardrum is a hole or rupture in the eardrum, a thin membrane that separates the ear canal and the middle ear. A perforated eardrum is often accompanied by decreased hearing and occasional discharge with pain. The amount of hearing loss experienced depends on the degree and location of perforation. Sometimes a perforated eardrum will heal spontaneously, other times surgery to repair the hole is necessary. Serious problems can occur if water or bacteria enter the middle ear through the hole.

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Neurotology

An acoustic neuroma is a rare, benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear.

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Facial nerve weakness or paralysis needs immediate medical intervention! Our physicians have special training and expertise in diagnosing and managing facial nerve disorders. The goal is to initiate treatment as soon as possible to eliminate the source of the nerve damage and to insure the best outcome possible. If you or someone you know is experiencing a facial nerve weakness or paralysis, call the Midwest Ear Institute at once and inform the office staff of your symptoms.

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For an illustrated look at skull base surgery and neurotology, Stanford Medicine offers a comprehensive guide, courtesy of Dr. Robert Jackler.

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Balance

Feeling unsteady or dizzy can be caused by many factors such as poor circulation, inner ear disease, medication usage, injury, infection, allergies, and/or neurological disease. Dizziness is treatable, but it is important to first determine the exact cause so that the correct treatment is implemented. Symptoms that warrant an immediate visit to the doctor or emergency department include a high fever, severe headache, convulsions, ongoing vomiting, chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, inability to move an arm or leg, a change in vision or speech, or hearing loss.

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One of the most common causes of dizziness originating in the inner ear is Ménière’s disease. It is a condition that causes vertigo (attacks of a spinning sensation), hearing loss, tinnitus (a roaring, buzzing, or ringing sound in the ear), and a sensation of fullness in the affected ear.

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Some migraine sufferers experience varying degrees of dizziness with or without an associated headache. This occurs three times more often in females, often with a history of motion intolerance as a child. The dizziness varies from true vertigo to a lightheadedness and unsteady sensation lasting hours to days. There may be associated hearing loss and tinnitus. The diagnosis often depends on excluding other ear conditions which MAD mimics, such as Meniérè’s disease. The treatment is directed at the elimination of the triggering factors, dietary measures (migraine diet), and medications (tricyclic antidepressants, beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers). Consultation with a neurologist may be necessary as well.
Vertigo is experienced after a change in head position such as lying down, turning in bed, looking up, or stooping. It lasts about 30 seconds and ceases when the head is still. It is due to a dislodged otololith crystal entering one of the semicircular balance canals. It can last for days, weeks, or months. The Epley “repositioning” treatment by an otolaryngologist is usually curative. BPV is the most common cause of dizziness after (even a mild) head injury.

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Labyrinthitis is an infection or inflammation of the inner ear.

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Vestibular Neuritis is an infection or inflammation of the balance nerve between the inner ear balance system and the brain.

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Glossary of Terms

After your first visit to a physician you may hear some of the following terms related to the diagnosis and treatment of your problem. Do not hesitate to seek clarification from your physician if he or she uses a term that you do not fully understand.

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For an illustrated look at surgeries of the ear, Stanford Medicine offers an Otologic Surgery Atlas, courtesy of Dr. Robert Jackler.

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