Hearing Clinic FAQs
Good balance relies on the brain processing signals from the ears, the eyes and the body (muscles and joints). Any disruption in one or more of these can result in a mismatch of information causing imbalance or dizziness. The ear is often described as the balance organ. It is particularly important as it provides the brain with the information responsible for motion, balance and spatial orientation. If there are certain disruptions within the ear, your brain will receive different signals from your ears than it does from your eyes or body and this can result in dizziness.
The vestibular system is a term used to describe the parts of the ear involved with balance. When this system is not functioning correctly this causes vestibular disorders which can cause dizziness, vertigo and imbalance. The most common vestibular disorders are:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Migraine associated vertigo
- Mal de Debarquement
- Meniere’s Disease
- Visual Vertigo
- Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD)
Vestibular rehabilitation aims to ease the symptoms related to vestibular disorders. The rehabilitation involves a series of exercises that promote both habituation and compensation to help strengthen the balance system and alleviate symptoms.
At your initial assessment a full and detailed history will be taken followed by a series of assessments to ascertain what difficulties each patient is having. These assessments can include exercises involving your gaze, standing and walking. Testing for specific types of dizziness such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) may also be completed.
At the end of the appointment a personalised treatment plan will be created to help improve your symptoms. This will often involve specific exercises to be carried out at home. In many cases it is appropriate for follow up appointments to review the progress of treatment and to alter the treatment plan as required.
Many of the signs of hearing loss are fairly common and consistent among those suffering from it. You can read our article on hearing loss here.
We have out lined this in full in this article on hearing tests. It covers what you can expect in the hearing test process, plus how you can best prepare for your hearing test.
Tinnitus is defined as any noise a person hears in the absence of environmental sound.
Approximately 90% of people with tinnitus are believed to have a hearing loss, the result of damage to hair cells in the inner ear, or cochlea. The causation in normal hearing individuals is less clear. Many scientists continue to research the subject as it is believed it may hold the key to better understanding tinnitus as a whole. Stress and stressful incidents in a person’s life are understood to be triggers.
The advice for years has been to “ignore it” and those able to habituate to the sound are rarely troubled. Often correcting the hearing loss with amplification helps significantly. Reducing caffeine, salt and alcohol have been suggested but the evidence behind these recommendations is weak
Online hearing tests are available which give an indication of overall acuity but a test conducted in a sufficiently quiet environment, with correctly calibrated equipment is advised. This will give an accurate reading and inform the individual the nature of the loss.
You can read our blog post on this here.
The difference between analogue and digital hearing aids are how they process the different intensity levels processed by the aid. Digital hearing aids will give the wearer a better appreciation of loud versus soft sounds. Analogue aids amplify all intensities equally. People who have worn analogue aids for a long-time often fine acclimatising to digital aids differently because some sounds are quieter than they are used to but this is actually more representative of normal hearing.
Wax should only be removed by someone with the correct training. There are three recognised methods: micro suction, irrigation and instrumentation. Often a combination of these are used under the same procedure. The method selected is based on the clients history, anatomy and position and density of the wax in the ear
A hearing assessment involves a case history, followed by an examination of the outer, middle and inner ear. This is done by looking into the outer ear and checking for obstructions in the ear canal as well as damage to the eardrum. A tympanogram will assess the movement of the drum and the small bones in the middle ear. A bone conductor will be placed on the mastoid bone to assess the function of the middle ear. Speech in noise testing gives information of the functional capabilities of an individual and their ability to process speech.
You can read our blog post on this here.
Hearing loss will either be congenital (born with) or acquired (occurring after birth). Congenital loss can be genetic, a result of complications during birth, or the result of maternal diabetes. Infections and viruses, such as meningitis, can cause hearing loss during childhood. Fluid in the middle ear can cause a temporary loss and very common in younger children due to part of the middle ear not being fully developed.