Ear Infection, Hearing Loss, Tinnitus
Conditions that impact hearing can involve was buildup, infection, foreign objects, fluid behind the eardrum, holes in the eardrum, problems with the little bones behind the eardrum as well as nerve hearing loss that involves damage in the cochlear inner ear. Nerve hearing loss can be inherited or acquired from loud noise exposure, medications, infection and the natural aging process. On exam, the doctor checks for redness, fluid behind the eardrum and movement of the eardrum. These are the signs of an ear infection.
Diagnostic Audiology Testing may include:
Comprehensive Audiometric Evaluation – this is classic hearing testing performed through equipment called an audiometer; it includes testing hearing for tones at various pitches.
Tympanometry – this test measures the air pressure in the middle ear and helps determine how well the Eustachian tube is working and the eardrum is moving.
Speech Audiometry (tests of word understanding ability in quiet or in noise) – tests with words help in evaluating the nerves of the auditory system; it also helps determine practical hearing for communication and help us to know a person’s potential benefit from hearing rehabilitation
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) testing – this test is a quick way to evaluate cochlear function which is especially useful as a hearing measure for infants and children; it does not require anything more than briefly being still and quiet with a soft test tip in the ear; the equipment measures the ear’s response to test tones to show if ear function is normal.
Ear surgery including Baha® Implants
Ear Tubes– Painful ear infections are a rite of passage for children—by the age of five, nearly every child has experienced at least one episode. Most ear infections either resolve on their own (viral) or are effectively treated by antibiotics (bacterial). But sometimes ear infections and/or fluid in the middle ear may become a chronic problem leading to other issues, such as hearing loss, or behavior and speech problems. In these cases, insertion of an ear tubes may be considered.
Placement of ear tubes is a minimally invasive procedure where tiny cylinders are placed through the ear drum (tympanic membrane) to allow air into the middle ear.Ear tubes are inserted through an outpatient surgical procedure. A small hole is made in the ear drum or tympanic membrane. This is most often done under a surgical microscope with a small scalpel. If an ear tube is not inserted, the hole would heal and close within a few days. To prevent this, an ear tube is placed in the hole to keep it open and allow air to reach the middle ear space (ventilation).
The average age for ear tube insertion is one to three years old. Inserting ear tubes may:
- Reduce the risk of future ear infection
- Restore hearing loss caused by middle ear fluid
- Improve speech problems and balance problems and
- Improve behavior and sleep problems caused by chronic ear infections.
Cholesteatoma– An abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum is called a cholesteatoma. Repeated infections and/or a tear or pulling inward of the eardrum can allow skin into the middle ear. Cholesteatomas often develop as cysts or pouches that shed layers of old skin, which build up inside the middle ear. Over time, the cholesteatoma can increase in size and destroy the surrounding delicate bones of the middle ear leading to hearing loss that surgery can often improve. Permanent hearing loss, dizziness, and facial muscle paralysis are rare, but can result from continued cholesteatoma growth. A large or complicated cholesteatoma usually requires surgical treatment to protect the patient from serious complications.
Baha® Implant System– The Baha® Bone Conduction Hearing Solution bypasses the outer and middle ear using bone conduction to send sound to the functioning inner ear. Once sound reaches the inner ear, the sound vibrations are converted into electrical impulses by tiny hair cells inside the cochlea. These impulses travel to the brain allowing the Baha® recipient to perceive sound naturally.
The Baha® system involves the surgical placement of titanium implant behind the ear in an outpatient procedure. It is designed for the patient experiencing single sided deafness, malformed ears or problems with hearing aids.