Conditions We Evaluate and Treat
We provide care for people with the following conditions:
Balance problems are conditions that make you feel unsteady or dizzy. If you are standing, sitting or lying down, you might feel as if you are moving, spinning or floating. If you are walking, you might suddenly feel as if you are tipping over or generally unsteady.
Many body systems — including your muscles, bones, joints, vision, the balance organ in the inner ear, nerves, heart and blood vessels — must work normally for you to have normal balance. When these systems aren't functioning well, you can experience balance problems.
Many medical conditions can cause balance problems. However, most balance problems result from issues in your balance end-organ in the inner ear (vestibular system).
Signs and symptoms of balance problems include:
- Sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
- Feeling of faintness (presyncope)
- Loss of balance (disequilibrium)
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is usually triggered by specific changes in the position of your head. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed.
Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it's rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. You can receive effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo during a doctor's office visit.
The signs and symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) may include:
- A sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving (vertigo)
- A loss of balance or unsteadiness
The signs and symptoms of BPPV can come and go, with symptoms commonly lasting less than one minute. Episodes of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can disappear for some time and then recur.
Activities that bring about the signs and symptoms of BPPV can vary from person to person, but are almost always brought on by a change in the position of your head. Some people also feel out of balance when standing or walking.
Abnormal rhythmic eye movements (nystagmus) usually accompany the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.
Dizziness can range from fleeting faintness to a severe balance disorder that makes normal functioning impossible. Among adults over 60, about 20 percent have had a dizziness episode that affected their usual activities.
Dizziness may feel like:
- Lightheadedness, as though you might pass out
- Unsteadiness or a loss of balance
- A false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving (vertigo)
- Floating, swimming or heavy-headedness
Dizziness is often temporary and goes away without treatment. As you talk with your doctor about your condition, try to describe your specific symptoms, how the dizziness makes you feel as it is coming on and after it has passed, what triggers it, and how long it lasts. This will help your doctor diagnose the cause and treat it.
Cerumen impaction (earwax blockage)
Earwax blockage occurs when earwax (cerumen) accumulates in your ear or becomes too hard to wash away naturally.
Earwax is a helpful and natural part of your body's defenses. It cleans, lubricates and protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria.
If earwax blockage becomes a problem, you or your doctor can take simple steps to remove the wax safely.
Signs and symptoms of earwax blockage may include:
- Feeling of fullness in the affected ear
- Ringing or noises in the ear (tinnitus)
- Decreased hearing in the affected ear
Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age (presbycusis) is common. About 25 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 55 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 65, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 1 in 2.
Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises are significant factors that contribute to hearing loss. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily prevent your ears from conducting sounds as well as they should.
You can't reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you don't have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or a hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.
- 28 million Americans have hearing loss.
- Hearing loss is the third most chronic condition for the elderly.
- Everyday in the U.S., approximately 1 in 1,000 newborns (or 33 babies every day) is born profoundly deaf with another 2-3 out of 1,000 babies born with partial hearing loss, making hearing loss the number one birth defect in America.
- 1 in 5 teenagers have hearing loss from music exposure.
Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tus) is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn't a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.
Tinnitus involves the annoying sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. Tinnitus symptoms include these types of phantom noises in your ears:
The phantom noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it can interfere with your ability to concentrate or hear actual sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go.
There are two kinds of tinnitus.
- Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus only you can hear. This is the most common type of tinnitus. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. It also can be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or the part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways).
- Objective tinnitus is tinnitus your doctor can hear when he or she does an examination. This rare type of tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition or muscle contractions.