If you suffer from hearing loss or other hearing and balance related conditions, you may benefit from an audiologic evaluation. These comprehensive diagnostic exams can determine the cause, severity and best treatment option for these conditions in infants, children and adults.
Newborn hearing screening is a noninvasive exam used to detect hearing loss in infants. Three out of every 1,000 newborns are born with permanent hearing loss, and many of them have no risk factors for the condition. Newborn hearing loss can greatly affect the development of speech and language, as these skills are acquired during the first two years of life by listening to the familiar sounds and voices of their home and family. By identifying hearing loss early, special care can be provided to help your child develop normal language skills during the critical first two years of life.
There are two types of screening tests typically performed to assess newborn hearing, both of which are conducted while your baby is quiet and sleeping. These tests may be performed separately or together, and will not harm your baby in any way. These tests screen for mild or greater hearing loss, but cannot diagnose the cause of hearing loss. Most hearing screenings are performed before babies leave the hospital or within the next few weeks.
A balance disorder is a complex condition that causes unsteadiness and dizziness, and sensations of spinning, moving or floating. Part of the inner ear known as the labyrinth interacts with other body systems, including those of the eyes, bones and joints, to maintain balance. The part of the inner ear that is involved with balance is called the vestibular system, and balance disorders associated with the ear are referred to as vestibular disorders. Problems within the ear, brain or nervous system cause balance problems that affect more than two million people each year.Identifying the underlying cause and the type of balance disorder are both important for successful treatment. When a cause for the balance disorder is determined, a specific treatment plan can be created. Balance disorders are commonly characterized by their symptoms or causes. There are several types of common balance disorders such as:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- Meniere's Disease
- Vestibular Neuronitis
- Perilymph Fistula
Hearing aids are a common non-invasive treatment option for hearing loss. A hearing aid is a small electronic device worn in or behind the ear to amplify sounds. While hearing aids are useful in improving listening and communication, they do not cure hearing impairment of make the ear function normally.
A hearing aid is composed of three components: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. Sounds are received through the microphone, intensified by the amplifier, and transmitted to the ear through the speaker. The microphone, which picks up sounds from the air, converts them into electrical signals. Once these sounds have been made more powerful by the amplifier, they are changed back into acoustic signals to be heard by the person wearing the hearing aid. In addition to these three components of hearing aids, digital hearing aids also make use of a small computer.
Analog Hearing Aids These aids convert sound waves into electrical signals which are then amplified and transmitted back to the ear. They can be custom-made to fit each patient's hearing needs. They can altered by the patient and customized for different listening environments. Analog aids can be used in any style of hearing aid.
Digital Hearing Aids Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes and then amplify them. Some frequencies can be amplified more than others. Digital aids can also be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a certain direction. These aids tend to be more expensive than the analog variety.