Ear problems and hearing loss are an inescapable part of life, as almost everyone has either personally experienced or has a family member who suffers from some sort of ear condition. Even though they are common, they can still be very complex. For example, hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, adult ear pain is usually not an ear infection, and not all dizziness is due to the ear. A proper diagnosis is critical to receiving proper treatment of ear problems. Both Dr. Kirsch and Dr. Fraley have years of experience evaluating ear problems and can help you determine the cause and its treatment. Additionally, we have a full-time audiologist, Kathleen Phillips, that can provide same-day hearing tests and hearing aid counseling.
Below you will find a list and information on some of the more common hearing and ear disorders. Call us today at 501-932-7600 for an appointment to see how we can help you.
Hearing loss occurs in 0.5 - 1% of all children born in the United States and steadily increases in prevalence throughout life. By the age of 65, roughly 50% suffer from sort of hearing loss. There are two main types of hearing loss - sensorineural and conductive. Sensorineural, or nerve-related, hearing loss is more common and usually permanent. Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include genetics, age, noise exposure, tumors of the brain or inner ear, or Meniere's disease. In contrast, conductive hearing loss is less common, but often reversible with treatment. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include fluid behind the eardrum, wax impactions, holes in the ear drum, and otosclerosis (stiff ear bones).
Diagnosing and treating hearing loss requires a history, physical exam, and hearing test to determine what type of hearing loss you have. You may also need tympanometry testing, which checks for pressure in the middle ear. If necessary, our physicians can clean out wax and remove any fluid behind the ear. These can all be performed during your initial appointment. In some cases, you may need a CT scan or MRI to determine the cause of your hearing loss. Most cases of hearing loss can be treated by our physicians either with hearing aids, medication, or surgery.
Hearing aids are the most common and sometimes only treatment for hearing loss. Our audiologist, Kathleen Phillips, has years of experience counseling patients on hearing aids and fitting them with the best solution. We specialize in ReSound and Phonak products and only offer current hearing aids with modern technology to give you the best result and highest satisfaction. Not only do we have competitive pricing, but we provide free lifetime reprogramming. If hearing aids are an option for you, we offer a 30 day trial period where you can try them out at minimum cost. Alternatively, if hearing aids are not appropriate for whatever reason, you can expect an honest assessment from us.
The Eustachian tube is the passageway that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. Swelling or dysfunction of the Eustachian tube can lead to pressure, popping, and pain in the middle ear. This is often noticed when flying or driving through mountains or when one has an upper respiratory infection. More severe Eustachian tube dysfunction can lead to ear infections, fluid in the middle ear, or hearing loss. Historically, Eustachian tube dysfunction has been treated with nasal sprays, reflux medications, or ear tubes. In 2016 the FDA approved a new balloon dilation device to directly open the Eustachian tube with results superior to medications alone. Our physicians are able to offer this new minimally invasive procedure to our adult patients.
Dizziness is a generic term that includes symptoms of vertigo, disequilibrium, presyncope, and lightheadedness. With such a broad range of symptoms, it is no surprise that dizziness is a complex problem that can have many causes, only one of which is the inner ear. Other potential causes include heart disease, vascular disease, medications, migraines, neurologic disease, and anxiety or panic attacks. A common misconception is that sinuses or allergies cause dizziness - this is rarely the case. Your primary care doctor may be able to help you determine the cause of your dizziness so that you can receive the appropriate treatment or referral to the appropriate specialist.
Vertigo, or an acute sensation of motion, is generally due to the inner ear and is frequently seen by ENT specialists. The most common causes of vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere's disease, or vestibular neuritis. Vestibular migraine is a common cause of vertigo that is not from the inner ear. Evaluation of vertigo includes a detailed history and physical exam. A hearing test is usually necessary to evaluate the inner ear. In some cases, an MRI or balance testing is necessary. After a full evaluation, our physicians can provide you with a diagnosis and treat you appropriately.
Information adapted from the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery