Vertigo

Balance disorders, which often present symptoms of feeling unsteady, woozy, or sensations of spinning, moving, floating, or falling, are often due to problems within the inner ear. The inner ear interacts with the eyes and brain and contributes to balance. Treatment for balance disorders depend on the underlying condition. Some patients find rehabilitation and lifestyle changes effective in reducing symptoms and in rare cases, surgery can help.

Medications

Even when the causes of dizziness and balance disorders aren’t known, there are typical medication options that often address symptoms. For example, those with Meniere’s disease may be prescribed water pills.

When combined with a low-salt diet, the frequency of dizzy episodes may be reduced. Some antihistamines and anticholinergics can offer short-term relief from vertigo. Transdermal scopolamine patches offer continuous dosing. Anti-nausea medications may help, though drowsiness is often a side effect. Anti-anxiety medications, such as Valium and Xanax, may also reduce symptoms, but drowsiness is also an issue with these drugs.

Vestibular Therapy

When vertigo and dizziness result from inner ear disorders, vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) offers a treatment that reduces both primary and secondary symptoms of the condition.

Comprised of exercises that reduce dizziness, vertigo, and nausea, VRT augments the natural balance function of the ear by recruiting input from other senses. This often happens naturally, over time, for patients with long-term vestibular disorders. VRT may speed the process in patients who otherwise see no improvement in their conditions over time. Three types of VRT exercise are balance training, gaze stabilizing, and habituation. A combination of exercises may be customized to provide maximum benefits on an individual patient basis.

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Tinnitus

Tinnitus

Ringing in the ears often leads people to assume that it is a symptom of a serious condition. Dr. Halliday understands how distracting and disorienting tinnitus is and provide treatments to alleviate the condition.

Ringing in the Ears Q & A

Is tinnitus and ringing in the ears the same thing?

When a patient experiences the sensation of ringing within their ears, the cause is most likely a condition known as tinnitus. The perception of tinnitus is often referred to as ringing, but some patients report hearing whistling, chirping, hissing, or other abnormal sounds.

Sometimes these noises occur intermittently, while other patients experience a constant presence of ringing. There is also no standard level of these noises, which can be distractingly loud or barely audible. Patients often report that ringing in the ears is more prevalent at nighttime, possibly due to the reduction of other auditory input as a person prepares to go to sleep.

What is the cause of tinnitus, and is it a serious condition?

Tinnitus is a common condition, and research suggests that as many as 50 million Americans are affected. While tinnitus may occur in conjunction with hearing loss, there is no evidence to support a link between the two.

Tinnitus may be the result of an infection or can be caused by a blockage within the ear. Researchers believe that prolonged exposure to loud noises is behind most cases of tinnitus. Tinnitus can also occur as individuals age and the structures within the inner ear deteriorate.

What are the treatment options for tinnitus?

Treatments vary, depending on the cause of the condition. If tinnitus is the result of infection, then a course of antibiotics can provide relief. For individuals who suffer chronic tinnitus as a result of exposure to loud noises, behavioral modification in the form of avoiding loud sounds can lead to relief.

It is important for individuals who experience ringing in the ear to consult a physician to determine the source of the problem. In rare cases, a tumor or an abnormality in the patient’s blood vessels can create a sensation of ringing within the ear. Some common treatment options are listed below.

Other Remedies

Medications (Including Vitamins)

Since tinnitus is a symptom of other conditions rather than a condition itself, treatment of the underlying cause may reduce the effects. While medications can’t provide a cure, in some cases they may reduce the intensity of tinnitus noise.

Typically, medications are used only in severe cases, since most have other side effects, some of which can be aggressive. While there isn’t extensive supporting research, there is anecdotal evidence of tinnitus improvement using alternative treatment options, such as B vitamin and zinc supplements. Since these are low-risk therapies, there’s usually no harm in trying the treatments.

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Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss (CHL) occurs when there is a problem transferring sound waves anywhere along the pathway through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum), or middle ear (ossicles). If a conductive hearing loss occurs in conjunction with a sensorineural hearing loss, it is referred to as a mixed hearing loss. Depending upon the severity and nature of the conductive loss, this type of hearing impairment can often be treated with surgical intervention or pharmaceuticals to partially or, in some cases, fully restore hearing acuity to within normal range. However, cases of permanent or chronic conductive hearing loss may require other treatment modalities such as hearing aid devices to improve detection of sound and speech perception.

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Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss (CHL) occurs when there is a problem transferring sound waves anywhere along the pathway through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum), or middle ear (ossicles). If a conductive hearing loss occurs in conjunction with a sensorineural hearing loss, it is referred to as a mixed hearing loss. Depending upon the severity and nature of the conductive loss, this type of hearing impairment can often be treated with surgical intervention or pharmaceuticals to partially or, in some cases, fully restore hearing acuity to within normal range. However, cases of permanent or chronic conductive hearing loss may require other treatment modalities such as hearing aid devices to improve detection of sound and speech perception.

Conductive hearing loss makes all sounds seem faint or muffled. The hearing loss is usually worse in lower frequencies. Congenital conductive hearing loss is identified through newborn hearing screening or may be identified because the baby has microtia or other facial abnormalities. Conductive hearing loss developing during childhood is usually due to otitis media with effusion and may present with speech and language delay or difficulty hearing. Later onset of conductive hearing loss may have an obvious cause such as an ear infection, trauma or upper respiratory tract infection or may have an insidious onset related to chronic middle ear disease, otosclerosis or a tumour of the naso-pharynx. Earwax is a very common cause of a conductive hearing loss which may present suddenly when the wax blocks sound from getting through the external ear canal to the middle and inner ear.

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Ear Wax Removal

Wax Removal

Dr. Halliday can determine whether you have earwax blockage by looking in your ear with a special instrument that lights and magnifies your inner ear (otoscope).

Treatment

Your doctor can remove excess wax using a small, curved instrument called a curet or by using suction while inspecting the ear. Your doctor can also flush out the wax using a water pick or a rubber-bulb syringe filled with warm water.

If earwax buildup is a recurring problem, your doctor may recommend that you use a wax-removal medication, such as carbamide peroxide (Debrox Earwax Removal Kit, Murine Ear Wax Removal System). Because these drops can irritate the delicate skin of the eardrum and ear canal, use them only as directed.

Don’t try to dig it out

Never attempt to dig out excessive or hardened earwax with available items, such as a paper clip, a cotton swab or a hairpin. You may push the wax farther into your ear and cause serious damage to the lining of your ear canal or eardrum.

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