Your ears, nose and throat work together and are connected by a system of tubes. That means, when something goes wrong, it can cause discomfort throughout your whole body. Bon Secours ENTs can assist you in everything from simple ear infections to more advanced conditions like tonsillitis. We can even help with certain sleep disorders and allergies.
Conditions We Treat
Balance disorders affect 4 out of 10 people at some point in life. They are often caused by inner ear issues, health conditions, or medications. Symptoms of balance disorders can include dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, blurred vision or nausea.
Nerve or inner ear damage often results in hearing loss. This damage is frequently the result of aging or overexposure to loud noises. However, it can also occur suddenly from acute injuries. While hearing loss cannot be reversed, there are many steps your doctor can take to improve hearing quality and the ability to effectively communicate.
Labyrinthitis, or inflammation of the inner ear, is typically brought on from an infection. Like other ear problems, symptoms include dizziness, hearing loss and vertigo. It is important to see a doctor to properly diagnose this issue as it can be easily confused with other ear issues. Medications can help manage symptoms and keep you comfortable, until labyrinthitis eventually subsides on its own.
Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS)
Mal de debarquement syndrome is the illusion of movement after movement has stopped. It is caused by exposure and then removal of movement. Many people deal with MdDS after air or sea travel. Symptoms include rocking, swaying and loss of balance, and symptoms usually intensify when lying down or under stress. Typically, Mal de debarquement resolves itself within 24 hours. However for some patients, it can last for months or years.
Hearing loss, vertigo, ringing in the ear, imbalance, rapid involuntary eye movement and ear pressure can all be signs of Meniere’s disease. While Meniere’s disease typically starts in one ear, it can later encompass both. Managing Meniere’s disease is important, as it can progress to cause hearing loss. While there is currently no cure for Meniere’s disease, medication, therapy and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms.
Perilymph Fistula (PLF)
Perilymph fistula is a small membrane tear between the middle and inner ear that causes inner ear fluid to leak into the middle ear. People with PLF often feel pain during changes in air pressure, intense activity, sneezing, coughing or nose-blowing. The most common cause of PLF is head trauma. Because PLF symptoms are often confused with Meniere’s disease, it is very important to see a doctor for diagnosis.
Tinnitus or ringing in the ear affects around 20% of the population. There are two types of tinnitus – subjective and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is caused by problems with the auditory nerves or pathways, and only the patient can hear the ringing. Objective tinnitus is caused by a blood vessel problem, a muscle contraction, or a middle ear bone condition and the ringing can be heard by the patient and the doctor during examination. Treatment of tinnitus will differ by type and cause of the condition, so visiting your doctor for a customized treatment plan is the best option.
Vestibular neuronitis is a condition that affects the nerve of the inner ear, preventing it from properly sending head position information to the brain. This disruption causes severe vertigo, dizziness, trouble concentrating, balance issues and nausea. Symptoms are very severe during the first few days but often are gone within three weeks.
Treatments We Offer
Audiological exams are a series of tests used to determine the type, severity and cause of a patient’s hearing loss, so they can find a unique treatment plan. These tests are painless and non-invasive. They are typically conducted by an audiologist in an office setting.
Balance Assessment Test
Balance assessment tests take around two hours and are taken with computerized testing equipment. While are painless, doctors often recommend patients bring a driver with them as a precautionary measure. Balance assessment tests usually consist of three types of tests to measure problem-causing areas.
A Cochlear implant is a device that provides sound signals to the brain, working in place of a damaged inner ear. Surgery is required to place a cochlear implant, and then it receives digitally coded sound signals from a sound processor worn behind the ear. It then stimulates the hearing nerve which sends impulses to the brain where it is understood as sound. Cochlear implants are used in children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Endolymphatic Sac Decompression
Endolymphatic sac decompression is a surgery utilized in patients with Meniere’s disease to control or lessen vertigo attacks. It is typically recommended after other treatments, such as dietary changes and therapies, have been proven ineffective in a patient. Endolymphatic sac decompression is a same-day surgery that removes a bone in the ear. It is performed in an office setting under anesthesia.
A epley maneuver is an exercise that treats positional vertigo. It is typically performed by a doctor in an office setting. However, patients can also utilize this maneuver at home once they have been to the doctor to learn the intricacies of the movement. The goal of the movement is to reposition crystals in a patient’s ear, which may cause dizziness and nausea.
Fistula tests are used to confirm the diagnosis of perilymph fistula, when an abnormal opening between the vestibule and middle ear cavity is suspected. In fistula testing, positive and negative pressure are applied to each ear then eye movements are recorded. If a patient’s test is positive, it is a good basis to require surgery.
A hearing aid is a small electronic device used to amplify sound so that people with hearing loss can communicate more effectively. While hearing aids do not restore hearing loss, they improve hearing significantly. There are three main styles of hearing aids – behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and canal hearing aids, and two types – analog and digital which vary on the type of electronics used.
A labryinthectomy is a surgical procedure used to control vertigo. The goal of corrective labyrinthectomy is to repair or stabilize ear function. Meanwhile, the goal of destructive labrinthectomy is to stop the production of sensory information or prevent transmission from the inner ear to the brain.
Micropressure therapy is used to treat some cases of Meniere’s disease when medical treatment does not suffice. Micropressure therapy places a device in the external ear, which generate a sequence of low-pressure pulses. It aims to reduce pressure in the ear, relieving symptoms of Meniere’s disease and removing the need for invasive surgery.
Noise Suppression Device
Noise suppression devices are sound therapy hearing aid devices that are used to mask a patient’s tinnitus, blending it into the background, and taking the patient’s focus elsewhere. They transmit white noise and can be adjusted to the patient’s preference level.
People suffering from positional vertigo often experience loss of balance, nausea, spinning sensations, lightheadedness, motion sickness and rapid involuntary eye movement. This is treatable by a medical professional, and it can often be cured within a few weeks. The most common cure is to intentionally shift the head into four different positions to move particles in the ear.
Semicircular Canal Occlusion
Semicircular canal occlusion surgery is an option for Benign Positional Vertigo patients that therapy does not work for. In the surgery, an incision is made behind the external ear to remove the bone behind the scalp and inner ear. This bone removal eliminates the function of the canal in the poorly performing ear. Within a few weeks, the patient’s brain will learn to rely solely on the good ear and vertigo will be relieved.
Surgical Repair for Perilymph Fistula
Surgery is sometimes required to repair the membrane of the middle and inner ear, and this is called surgical repair for perilymph fistula. During surgery, the eardrum is raised and soft tissue grafts are placed around the oval and round window. It is carried out through the ear canal and under local anesthesia.
Valsalva maneuver is a four-phase breathing technique used to normalize middle ear pressure. The technique requires a patient to try to exhale while keeping the mouth and nose closed. It can be performed sitting or lying down, but should always be performed under a doctor’s supervision.
Vestibular Nerve Section
Vestibular nerve section is a surgical option for patients who have severe Meniere’s disease, but still have good hearing in the affected ear. A successful surgery results in an elimination of recurrent vertigo attacks. This surgery is often only considered after other devices and therapies have been unsuccessful. Vestibular nerve section involves opening an envelope of the brain to expose the vestibular nerve, and then carefully cutting the vestibular nerve and keeping the cochlear nerve fibers intact.
A vestibular test, also called a vestibular function test, determines the health of the vestibular part of the inner ear, which controls balance. These tests help identify the specific cause of dizziness which lead to the development of a customized treatment plan, or a request for more expensive tests such as MRIs. Common vestibular tests include: electronystagmography, rotary chair tests, computerized dynamic visual acuity, and more.