A medical team approach to restore hearing and balance
The ability to perceive sound enables one of life’s richest and most meaningful sensory experiences. Approximately 36 million people in the United States suffer from some degree of hearing loss. People of all ages experience symptoms of hearing loss, and these symptoms can lead to serious social problems and depression.
Our NCMA Hearing Center team of board-certified otolaryngologists and experienced audiologists is devoted to finding the best, personalized hearing solutions and providing comprehensive care for all hearing and balance needs.
- Comprehensive adult and pediatric hearing aid assessments, verification and counseling
- Vertigo and dizziness assessments.
- Diagnostic and rehabilitative audiology.
- Quick test results (within the hour).
- Surgical management of hearing loss.
Visit NCMA Hearing Center and reclaim your right to experience sound, and to rediscover the joy of life’s music.
Whatever your stage in life, there is a solution to your symptoms of hearing loss. Children commonly suffer from recurrent ear infections, and fluid behind the eardrums. Adults are sometimes afflicted with age-related hearing loss. Vertigo and imbalance are common in seniors citizens, but can affect people of any age.
Many people experience a gradual loss of hearing while some report a more sudden change. Other symptoms include tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears), pressure or fullness in the ears, and dizziness, all of which should be medically evaluated by an audiologist or ENT physician.
When hearing loss occurs, the most common complaints are: “I can hear, but I can’t understand clearly,” and “I have difficulty hearing when there is background noise.”
NCMA Hearing Center offers full audiological evaluation and treatment for all hearing problems and ear-related diseases. Our team of expert audiologists and ENT surgeons collaborate closely to help patients overcome their hearing problems with the latest diagnostic tools and procedures. Advanced hearing aids are hardly noticeable, and can provide substantial improvements to hearing capabilities even in people with severe hearing loss. Our doctors treat ear diseases medically whenever possible, but sometimes surgery is necessary.
Tinnitus is a condition associated with hearing loss that can result from many underlying causes, including but not limited to neurological damage, build up of ear wax, ear infections, and nasal allergies. The primary symptom of tinnitus is the perception of sound within the ear in the absence of any corresponding external auditory stimuli. At NCMA Hearing Center, our audiologists and physicians offer the latest tinnitus testing and treatment options.
For some people, tinnitus can cause a severe annoyance in everyday life. Our audiologists and physicians carry decades of experience in relieving the symptoms of tinnitus with the absolute latest surgical procedures and hearing aid technologies. With all tinnitus patients, we conduct a thorough clinical evaluation, including a complete patient history and medication regimen, to help determine if tinnitus is present and what may be the underlying causes of the condition.
Dizziness and vertigo are extremely prevalent complaints that patients have when they come to see their doctors, affecting millions of Americans, with well over half of senior citizens reporting feeling dizzy on a regular basis. Despite the commonality of dizziness and vertigo in the general population, many people are unaware that the root cause often originates with a problem in the inner ear, known as a vestibular dysfunction. The vestibular system enables your brain to consistently orient your body as you move about, and damage to the inner ear has the potential to cause serious disruption to your balance equilibrium.
NCMA Hearing Center offers the most advanced diagnostic testing available to help your audiologist or physician determine the cause of your balance problem. Treatment options for balance care are limited in the medical community, but research has shown that several treatments have produced remarkable results in reducing balance problems, including vestibular rehabilitation therapy, diet, anti-vertigo medications, injections, and more. Our audiologists are experienced in vertigo and dizziness assessments, and they will help you find the best treatment to overcome your balance problem.
The first step towards better hearing starts with a comprehensive evaluation with one of our audiologists to determine the best possible treatment route. Evaluations at the Hearing Center are available for small children and adults alike. A thorough hearing evaluation begins with taking a complete history, visually inspecting the ear canal, and performing tests that measure a patient’s ability to hear soft tones and words. We then test your ability to understand speech, in silence and in background noise, when indicated. We also have our patients provide a self-assessment rating of their hearing ability that further helps us to fully understand each patient’s needs, when indicated.
Our comprehensive testing services include (when necessary):
- Audiogram (adult hearing test)
A device called an audiometer emits sounds at varying frequencies for the patient to hear. The test produces data, which is then charted on a graph called an audiogram. The audiogram shows your audiologist measurements of your ability to hear and to recognize different speech sounds.
- Visual reinforcement audiometry (child hearing test, 0–2 years)
A test where a child is trained to look towards a sound source from a loudspeaker. When the child responds by looking or pointing, the child is rewarded through a visual reinforcement such as a flashing light.
- Play audiometry (child hearing test, 3–5 years)
A test where sounds at different volumes and pitches are heard from a loudspeaker or earphones. The test is made into a game by having the child do something with a toy (i.e. dropping a block into a bucket) every time they hear a sound. Receptive speech understanding can also be tested by having a child point to pictures in a book that are presented orally by the audiologist.
- Otoscopic evaluation
Your physician or audiologist will look into your ear with a handheld device called an otoscope. The otoscope lights the outer ear, and enables your physician or audiologist to see signs of inflammation due to infection, build up of ear wax, or anything else that may contribute to your symptoms.
This easy, painless test helps your audiologist to examine your middle ear using a small probe. The probe is placed in your ear, and it then emits a tone, while also varying the amount of air pressure exerted on your ear. The test will help your audiologist determine any dysfunction in mobility in your eardrum, middle ear, and/or eustachian tube.
- Acoustic reflex testing
This test makes use of inserting a small probe into your ears. The probes emit a succession of staccato, loud noises to judge and record the way muscles in your middle ear react to noise. Your audiologist will use the test results to evaluate the functionality between your middle ear and lower brainstem.
- Otoacoustic emission (OAE) testing
Your ear has tiny hairs in the inner ear for sensing sound stimuli. A tiny, highly sensitive microphone picks up the movement of the tiny hair cells and helps your audiologist detect hearing problems in infants or small children, estimate hearing sensitivity, differentiate between sensory and neural components relevant to your hearing loss.
- Videonystagmography (VNG)
With the infrared goggles over your eyes, the audiologist performs a battery of tests to monitor your eye movement in response to movements of the head, motion of light, and placing air in your ear canal. This test takes about an hour, and can provide valuable information for diagnosing your dizziness and balance problems.
Hearing aids from a medical practice you can trust
If the above tests indicate that hearing aids will help you, we provide you with hearing aid treatment options. We offer conservative and affordable options, as well as the absolute latest in hearing aid technologies from a wide variety of manufactures. By precisely projecting sounds into your ear canal, our experienced audiologists can find the best hearing aid fit for your unique ears to optimize your ability to hear.
You will be thoroughly trained in how to use and care for your new hearing aids, and we will make sure that your hearing aid is still the best fit for you at every checkup. We also teach hearing loss coping and compensation strategies for patients and their spouses. All hearing aids are fit on a 60-day trial basis that ensures successful outcomes.
We provide hearing instruments in a wide variety of styles, with many different features and levels of technology.
We are proud to offer hearing instruments from top manufacturers including:
Micro and mini BTEs are usually done as an open-style fitting with a thin tube and a plastic tip that fits in the ear.
These hearing aids are the most natural feeling and are appropriate for those with mild to moderately severe high frequency hearing losses. These hearing aids fit behind the ear and are attached to a custom earmold, which goes in the ear. This style is appropriate for those with mild to profound hearing losses.
Completely in the canal (CIC)
This style of hearing aid fits entirely within the ear canal and is the least visible custom style. CIC hearing aids are best for those with mild to moderate hearing losses.
In the canal (ITC)
This style is slightly larger than the CIC, and can accommodate more features because of its size. ITC hearing aids are designed for those with mild to moderate hearing losses.
In the ear (ITE)
These hearing aids fit in the ear and can accommodate many helpful features. They are designed for those with mild to severe hearing losses.
Digital hearing instruments are programmed with a computer to provide amplification in the frequencies where you need it, allowing for an individualized response from the hearing aid. There are three general categories of digital
Offers outstanding performance in noise by using directional microphones and noise suppression/speech enhancement features. Best for those who spend a lot of time in background noise, are in a wide variety of listening situations or who want the best technology available
Offers good performance in mild background noise with the use of directional microphones and noise suppression features. Better for those who spend little time in background noise.
Amplifies sounds that are difficult to hear. Provides improved listening in background noise with the use of a directional microphone. Good for people who are mostly in quiet situations.
The surgical procedure for placing tubes in the ears has become one of the most commonly performed operations of any kind. A tiny hollow tube is slipped through an incision in the eardrum, allowing fluid or infection to be drained, and ending congestion in the middle ear space. Adults can be helped in the office; children are usually treated as outpatients.
Perforations can occur in the eardrum from many causes, including infection, trauma, and chronic middle ear disease. Many heal spontaneously. Those that don’t heal usually require microscopic repair, using small tissue grafts, to protect against hearing loss and infection. This surgery is done as an outpatient.
Located behind the ear, the mastoid bone connects to the middle ear and contains many air-filled spaces when healthy. Infection or disease in the ear or elsewhere can cause those spaces to fill with fluid, mucus or excess tissue (such as a cholesteatoma, a benign tumor that may grow out of a healing perforated ear drum and cause hearing damage). When medications and other non-surgical treatments such as antibiotics or professional cleaning fail to resolve the problem, mastoidectomy — surgical drainage — may be performed. Complications from surgery are rare but may include drainage from the ear, infection, temporary dizziness or loss of taste on one side of the tongue, hearing loss and, rarely, nerve injury to the side of the face operated upon.
An elective microsurgical procedure that replaces the stapes bone with a prosthesis (artificial bone) to counteract calcium deposits in the ear associated with otosclerosis. Surgery is performed under general or local anesthesia and can be done through the ear canal. The eardrum is raised and the middle ear opened, revealing the calcium deposit, which is then broken up with a laser. The remains of the vaporized stapes bone are removed and the bone is replaced. A tiny sample of tissue from behind the ear lobe is grafted to promote healing, and the incisions are closed. Complications are rare and depend on the patient’s anatomy. These may include temporary loss of taste on one side of the tongue, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and, rarely, facial nerve paralysis or partial or total hearing loss requiring the use of additional surgery or a hearing aid.
A procedure performed for “surfer’s ear.” Over many years of chronic cold water exposure, the bone of the ear canal expands to form lumps (exostoses) that narrow the ear canal. This can lead to chronic outer ear infections and hearing loss. If the narrowing has become severe, it can be corrected by drilling out the exostoses to re-create a normal ear canal.
1701 Fourth Street, Suite 120
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
- Stefan Zechowy, MD, otolaryngologist
- Mark Homicz, MD, otolaryngologist
- Stephanie Su Huang, MD, otolaryngologist
- Elizabeth Cedars, MD, otolaryngologist
- Annick Aubin-Pouliot, MD, otolaryngologist
- Kristin Kline, AuD, audiologist
- Jayme Fellores, AuD, audiologist
- Denise Martin, clinical aesthetician
- Heather Anderson, LVN, allergy clinic manager & nurse