Additional Services

Additional ServicesHearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting the ear, but millions of Californians also experience other problems that need to be properly diagnosed and treated. Kaiser Permanente Hearing Centers offer several additional services for people living with certain conditions affecting the ear.

Symptom: Constant Ringing in the Ears
Our Service: Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

Tinnitus is the perception of any sound in the head or ear(s) with no associated external source. Tinnitus is a common problem, affecting about 50 million people in the United States alone, with about 10 million Americans suffering from more noticeable or severe forms of the condition. The causes of tinnitus can be wide-ranging, including hearing loss, temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, and taking of certain medications. In addition to tinnitus some people experience decreased tolerance to sounds, a condition called hyperacusis. A large majority of individuals with tinnitus, about 40%, also note a problem with hyperacusis.

People with tinnitus are encouraged to follow-up with their primary care provider, who in many cases will order an audiologic evaluation to rule out hearing loss and other possible causes. Tinnitus cannot be cured in many cases, and while some people "learn to live with" the condition, others explore treatment options such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). TRT uses a combination of sound therapy and counseling to help patients learn to ignore the more pronounced extraneous sounds they are hearing. TRT is not a cure for tinnitus, but rather a means to decrease the annoyance associated with it.

Symptom: Balance Problems and Dizziness
Our Service: Vestibular Testing

As you may know, many balance problems can originate when there is something wrong with the mechanisms in the inner ear. This area is known as the vestibular portion of the ear. Through vestibular testing, your audiologist can check your inner ear health and often isolate dizziness symptoms to a specific cause that can be treated.

While dizziness and a loss of balance often can be attributed to inner ear conditions, these symptoms also can be caused by the brain, by medical disorders such as low blood pressure, or by psychological problems such as anxiety. Vestibular testing assists in determining the source of your symptoms. Vestibular tests also can be used to document conditions such as vertigo that often occur following head injury or as a side effect of certain medications.

If you are living with constant ringing in your ears, dizziness, or balance problems, contact your primary care physician to find out more about the available treatment options.

Symptom: Complete Loss of Hearing or Severe Hearing Loss
Our Service: Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or have severe hearing loss. This implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion placed under the skin. Very different from a hearing aid, cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. While the hearing sensation provided through cochlear implants differs from normal hearing, these devices allow many people to recognize warning signals, understand other sounds in the environment, and even engage in conversation in person or by telephone.

Both children and adults may be eligible to receive cochlear implants. After implantation, a person may need rehabilitation therapy to learn or re-learn speech and hearing skills. Children in particular may need this therapy to help them acquire speech, language, and social skills. Your audiologist can provide you with more information about the benefits of cochlear implants and the many factors you will need to weigh when considering this surgery for yourself or your child.

Symptom: Conductive or Mixed Hearing Loss; Sensorial Hearing Loss Only in One Ear
Our Service: BAHA

A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is implanted behind the ear and works through direct bone conduction, bypassing the ear canal and middle ear. BAHA aids are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of mixed and conductive hearing loss as well as sensorineural hearing loss that occurs only in one ear. BAHA aids are ideal for people who cannot wear a traditional hearing aid due to such conditions as a missing ear canal, non-functioning middle ear, or draining ears.

The BAHA aid consists of a titanium implant, an external abutment, and a sound processor. The surgical procedure needed to implant the device generally lasts less than an hour and is performed on an outpatient basis. These devices have been successfully used to improve hearing for over 30 years.