An audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon? At Circle Health, you can see both.
Our expert and experienced audiologists and ENT surgeons work closely together to provide a one-stop shop for patients with hearing loss.
The joint ENT and Audiology clinic diagnoses and treats both adults and children over the age of three. You’ll be seen quickly by the right specialist in the right place, with plenty of time to go through everything.
We’ll diagnose what’s caused your hearing loss and suggest treatments or procedures. You’ll enjoy continuity of service, where you see the same audiologist and ENT surgeon for any follow-on care.
Deafness is usually used to describe profound hearing loss, but the terms are used interchangeably.
Hearing loss or hearing impairment is common in 10% of the adult population and means being less able to hear. It can be age-related, but is also caused by exposure to noise, such as loud music or noisy workplaces, or acquired after an infection or surgery. Hearing loss can develop gradually or suddenly in one or both ears.
The two types of hearing loss are: conductive hearing loss, where sounds are prevented from reaching the inner ear, and sensorineural, which is when nerve impulses have trouble getting to the brain from the ear. You can have a mix of the two types.
Most hearing loss in children is caused by glue ear (otitis media with effusion). We will usually make a diagnosis and tell you whether a grommet procedure is necessary. (Available at Circle Reading Hospital only.)
See our section on deafness.
Impacted ear wax, ear wax build-up and infections are the most common diagnoses we make in adults. The treatments include microsuction to remove wax from the ears and clear the way for drops or to alleviate tinnitus (noises in the ears not caused by any external acoustic source).
If you have permanent hearing loss that can’t be helped surgically or medically, hearing amplification could be the answer. The benefits of a hearing aid versus surgery is that it can be placed in the ear and taken out again if you want to try another one or use it for a trial period.
Tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand in hand. It can be caused by age, middle ear infections, earwax, glue ear, loud noise, and head injuries. There are also some medical conditions, such as Meniere’s disease and otosclerosis that can cause dizziness, which we can diagnose.
If treatments such as microsuction to remove wax haven’t improved your tinnitus, we favour a holistic approach to help you cope with the symptoms. With tinnitus training therapy, we’ll work out why you have the condition and counsel you on how to live with it.
Our tactics include:
- Sound enrichment – neutral sounds to distract you
- Brain retraining to change how your brain reacts to tinnitus
- Hearing aids to address hearing loss
- Sound relaxation devices to help you sleep and focus without perceiving tinnitus
- Diet and exercise to reduce tension
Vertigo and dizziness can be affected by many things including diet (caffeine and salt), stress and hormonal changes, as well as medical conditions. Diagnosis is a process of elimination through tests that include x-rays, CT scans and MRI.
Our treatments include vestibular (balance) rehabilitation. This involves exercises you can be taught to do at home to improve your symptoms.
At our joint clinic you can often be seen by two experts on the same day. Our audiologists will see you first for a hearing assessment and pass on the results to an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon. From these diagnostics, the ENT surgeon will know how to approach the rest of the treatment.
You can also have a private appointment just to see the Audiology clinic. Our audiologists will see patients with hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo and balance issues. After this, you’ll be referred back to the Neurology or ENT consultant who referred you.
Hearing tests and pressure tests are standard approaches. We do an ear examination (otoscopy) to check the ear canals are free of wax and infection and proceed with a hearing test.
Adults are tested as you listen to sounds at higher ranges of frequency through headphones.
Children are asked to press a button every time they hear a noise through headphones. We record the results and do a pressure test to see whether there’s any fluid behind the eardrum (glue ear), which may need treatment by ENT.
If your child is too young to understand what to do with the buttons or has learning difficulties, they’ll have a play audiometry test. Your child will be conditioned to respond to sound by placing a peg on a stick or a man in a boat when they hear something.
In most patients, the hearing test takes place at the same consultation.
If a hearing aid is recommended, you can have it fitted at the hospital by our private hearing aid dispenser.
No, all our treatments are painless and simple. You can stop them at any time, but there’s no discomfort or pain.
If it’s a joint clinic, you will be with the audiologist and ENT surgeon for about half an hour. It takes about 20 minutes to go through your history and have any investigative tests.