Audiology, Hearing & Balance

Audiology Team at UH Treats Hearing & Balance Disorders

With a nationally recognized team of hearing and balance experts at University Hospitals, our team can diagnose, treat, and (re)habilitate hearing loss and balance problems. Many of our ear, nose and throat doctors, called otolaryngologists, have additional fellowship training in otology and neurotology to provide specialized care for ears, balance and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. We use the most advanced technology to diagnose and treat patients with signs of hearing loss and inner ear problems that may be the cause of your hearing and balance disorders, including dizziness or vertigo.

Our ENT expert care at University Hospitals is ranked 16th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report - the highest ranked in Northeast Ohio. From minor to the most complex conditions, UH has a deep legacy of research, innovation and bringing new treatments and therapies to patients.

Advanced Diagnostic Tests for Hearing Loss

There are many causes of hearing loss. It can be inherited or be noise induced hearing loss, or sensorineural hearing loss caused by damage to the nerves in the ear, or from viral or bacterial infections, head injury, tumors or stroke.

To help determine the specific cause of your hearing loss, UH offers specialized hearing tests performed by an audiologist – a professional trained to evaluate, measure and treat hearing problems. Those tests may include:

  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR): A computerized hearing test, the ABR is helpful in determining the site of an inner ear or brainstem hearing disorder. It’s also used to evaluate degree of hearing loss in people who can’t respond to standard hearing tests.
  • Electrocochleography (ECoG): This test is most often used to determine if the inner ear (cochlea) has an excessive amount of fluid pressure. Excessive fluid pressure in the cochlea can cause symptoms such as hearing loss, aural fullness, dizziness, and/or tinnitus, consistent with Meniere’s disease.
  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP): An evaluation to diagnose causes for balance disorders and vertigo, the VEMP measures responses from the neck, which can help to determine inner ear causes of dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance.
  • Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) evaluations: This evaluation is used for patients who struggle processing and interpreting sounds, have difficulty with auditory memory, have difficulties understanding when there is more than one person speaking, or when the speaker has an accent.

Based on test results, a comprehensive treatment plan is developed based on your individualized level of hearing loss or balance disorder.

Advanced Customized Treatment Options for Hearing Loss

University Hospitals offers many advanced effective treatments for your hearing loss. Mild to moderate hearing loss may sometimes be successfully treated with medication or hearing aids. UH works with you to review your hearing aid options and select the most appropriate level of technology to meet your individual needs. We maintain several hearing aid clinics where custom hearing aids and assistive listening devices are designed and fitted for patients of all ages by our specially trained audiologists.

If the hearing loss is severe, your hearing specialist may also recommend a more complex ENT surgery, such as a cochlear implant. The cochlea is the main organ of hearing located in your inner ear. When it is severely damaged, an implant that sends hearing signals directly to the auditory nerve may be necessary.

Our team at University Hospitals has conducted more than 1,000 cochlear implant procedures, including in the youngest patients, making our physicians and surgeons among the most experienced in the region. Other surgical procedures include:

  • Auditory brainstem implants: A surgically implanted electronic device, this stimulates hearing sensation in those with profound hearing loss.
  • Bone-anchored implant: Surgically implanted, a bone-anchored implant treats hearing loss through bone conduction of sound vibrations.
  • Middle ear implants: An alternative to traditional hearing aids, a middle ear implant is an implantable device leaves the ear canal completely open.

For all our patients affected by hearing loss, our otolaryngologists work with speech pathologists so you can not only improve your hearing or balance function, but also learn how to improve your communication through proven therapies.

Specialized Care for Balance Disorders

Balance problems can significantly impact your life. Any condition that makes you feel dizzy or unsteady may be related to an issue with many bodily systems, including your vestibular system, or inner ear of balance. It is important to see an audiologist and ENT specialist to determine the cause of your balance disorder. Many treatments are available to correct these issues and our team of specialists for ear, nose and throat at University Hospitals can help.

If you are having balance issues or dizziness, also called vestibular balance disorder, our ENT experts will perform a complete patient evaluation, including an assessment of:

  • Balance
  • Walking
  • Neck motion
  • Visual stability
  • Vestibular function

Your ENT specialist may recommend an exercise-based program available at University Hospitals. Vestibular therapy care plans are individualized for your needs and may also include adjusting your home’s layout and your daily habits to maximize safety.

Working together with the therapist, you can improve function in everyday activities and reduce your risk of falling.

Trust Your Hearing and Balance with the Best ENT Team in Northeast Ohio

Care at University Hospitals continues even after hearing or balance function is restored. Your ENT specialist will likely recommend continued follow-up visits for you or your loved one to ensure hearing and balance remains strong.

If you have questions about hearing loss or balance problems, please contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our ENT doctors at one of our convenient locations around Northeast Ohio.

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