Hearing & Balance

Hearing and balance problems are often inter-related conditions, as part of the inner ear (known as the labyrinth) interacts with other body systems like the eyes, bones and joints to maintain balance. Problems within the vestibular (ear) system can cause balance problems, which affect over 2 million people each year.

A balance disorder is a complex condition that causes feelings of unsteadiness, wooziness and sensations of spinning, moving or floating. Some of the most common balance disorders include:

  • Labyrinthitis
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Vestibular neuronitis

Treatment for hearing and balance disorders involves treating the underlying cause of the condition, which may be done through hearing aids, ear tubes, surgery or other treatments. Dr. Cohen will decide which treatment is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a noise such as ringing or buzzing in the ears. It is a common and not very serious problem that is easily resolved, but can become quite a nuisance to people who suffer from it. Almost 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. It is often caused by an underlying condition and is most effectively treated by treating that condition.

Treatment of tinnitus depends on the cause of the problem. Some treatment options include earwax removal, a change in medication, hearing aids, white noise machines or masking devices. Prescription medication can help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.

Otitis Media

Ear infections, also known as otitis media, are one of the most common childhood conditions. Three out of four children in the US will have at least one ear infection by the time they reach the age of 3, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

The ear is made up of three different parts - the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Although infections can occur in any area, the middle ear is most susceptible. The middle ear is the area just behind the eardrum and connects to the nose through tiny passages called Eustachian tubes. When fluid, often from a cold or other viral infection, builds up in these tubes, they become inflamed or irritated. Children's Eustachian tubes are narrower and shorter than those of adults and are therefore more likely to develop ear infections. Ear infections rarely affect adults.

An ear infection can be diagnosed by using an otoscope, a small lighted tube used to view the eardrum, as well as performing a complete physical examination of the throat, sinuses, head, neck and lungs. A hearing test may also be performed for chronic or recurring ear infections.

Most ear infections go away on their own within two or three days. Therefore, treatment focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms.

Dizziness & Vertigo

Vertigo is a sensation of spinning or whirling that occurs as a result of problems within the brain or inner ear. People with vertigo feel like the environment around them is moving when no movement is actually occurring. This symptom is one of the most common health problems in the US, and affects up to 40 percent of adults, who reported feeling dizzy at least once during their lifetime.

Vertigo may be caused by a number of different conditions, including inflammation of the inner ear (labyrinthitis), Meniere's disease, acoustic neuroma and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). It may also occur after head or neck trauma or severe migraines. Dr. Cohen may perform a series of blood and imaging tests, along with a physical and neurological examination in order to diagnose the cause of vertigo and rule out more serious conditions.

Treatment for vertigo depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms, but may include medication, antibiotics, dietary changes or surgery.

Ménière's Disease

Ménière's disease involves abnormalities in the inner ear that lead to hearing and balance problems. This condition usually occurs in only one ear and is most common among adults in their 40s and 50s.

Although the specific cause of Ménière's disease is not known, it is believed to be a result of an abnormal volume or composition of fluid in the inner ear. This may occur after a rupture of the membranous labyrinth, a portion of the inner ear. Ménière's disease causes recurring vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hearing loss and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. These symptoms can vary greatly in severity, duration and frequency depending on each individual.

Ménière's disease can be diagnosed by assessing your symptoms and ruling out other conditions. Your doctor may perform a series of tests such as a hearing test, balance assessment, MRI and complete physical examination. Patients must usually experience most or all of the symptoms in order to be diagnosed with Ménière's disease.


For more information about Hearing & Balance, contact our office at 818-609-0600 to schedule an appointment.

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