Neurotology and Otology Issues
When a person is suffering from balance and/or hearing problems, it may be ear-related. The conditions and issues related to balance and hearing fall within a specialized medical field of ENT known as otology and neurotology. Hearing loss and balance problems can be caused by a range of issues relating to the inner ear, which makes it imperative to seek medical care when experiencing either.
What are Neurology and Otology?
Otology is a branch of health care that specializes in disorders and diseases of the ear, including injuries and diseases of the skull base, hearing, and balance disorders.
Neurotology focuses on surgical care to the nerves connecting the ear to the brain and provides treatment for hearing loss, tinnitus, infections and inflammatory diseases of the ear, facial nerve disorders, dizziness, congenital malformations of the ear, hearing nerve issues, tumors of the ear.
Both fields are dedicated to the ear, and neurotologists, who are more trained to operate within the skull on parts of the brain and nervous system related to hearing and balance, often work in conjunction with ENT doctors to diagnose and treat a variety of related conditions.
Otology and Neurotology Issues and Conditions
There are a host of conditions and disorders that fall within the realm of otology and neurotology, including:
- Vertigo and Balance Disorders: many conditions can cause poor balance, vertigo, and dizziness. They are symptoms of an issue that requires diagnosis.
- Acoustic Neuroma: tumors of the acoustic nerve require skull-based microsurgery and perhaps, radiosurgery, to treat.
- Cholesteatoma: a cyst-like skin growth that usually occurs in the middle ear behind the eardrum, often a response to a repeated infection. Treatment requires microsurgery and sometimes rebuilding of the bones in the middle ear.
- Cochlear Implants: an electronic device that restores hearing when hearing aids no longer work.
- Chronic Otitis Media: middle ear infections that are longstanding or repeat
- Facial Nerve Disorders: the nerve that moves the muscles of the face travels through the temporal bone and ear, examples of these disorders are nerve tumors and Bell’s palsy
- Ear Canal Disorders: external ear anal disorders, such as otitis externa (swimmer’s ear), narrowing of the ear canal, and tumors
- Hearing Loss: two types constitute hearing loss, conductive or the mechanical blockage of sound, and sensorineural, which means an inner ear or nerve problem.
- Tinnitus: a high-pitched ringing in the ears, usually a result of hearing loss
- Otosclerosis: abnormal bone deposits near one of the tiny bones in the middle ear.
- Perforation of the Eardrum: caused by a chronic infection or trauma, it can lead to a middle ear infection and hearing loss.
- Meniere Disease: a balance disorder caused by an abnormality in the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear.