What hearing, balance & skull base disorders do we treat?

Our physicians sub-specialized in Otology & Neurotology treat common conditions such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus), surfer’s ear, hearing loss, ear infections, and dizziness. In addition, we provide expertise in the management of skull base tumors, fractures, and spinal fluid leaks.


Tinnitus, often described as a ringing in the ears, affects approximately 1 in 5 Americans. This perception of sound may affect one or both ears, and can range from a minor nuisance to a constant distraction. Tinnitus is considered a symptom rather than a disease and is usually the result of an underlying condition. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to relieve the noise and improve your quality of life.

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Surfer’s Ear (Exostoses)

Swimmers and those who participate in frequent water activities are at risk for developing a painful, itchy ear infection known as swimmer’s ear (otitis externa). These infections can also lead to a thickening of the bone and narrowed ear canals, a condition known as surfer’s ear (exostosis). Left untreated, both conditions could eventually cause hearing loss. Keeping the ears dry is key to preventing ear infections that can cause problems. The best way to accomplish this is by wearing specially designed swimmer’s earplugs.

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Hearing loss

Hearing loss is the third most common physical health problem in the U.S., affecting an estimated 48 million Americans. Despite this, hearing health is commonly overlooked; hearing loss in San Diego patients can be left undiagnosed and untreated for years. Hearing loss has been directly linked to several major health concerns including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety.

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Ear Infections

Ear infections occur when fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear following a viral or bacterial infection. This painful affliction is most common in children, but can affect people of all ages. Ear infections can be either acute (of short duration) or chronic (persisting or reoccurring frequently).

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Vertigo, or dizziness, is a symptom, not a disease. The term vertigo refers to the sensation of spinning or whirling that occurs as a result of a disturbance in balance (equilibrium). It also may be used to describe feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, and unsteadiness. The sensation of movement is called subjective vertigo and the perception of movement in surrounding objects is called objective vertigo.

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Skull Base Tumors

Tumors that form in the base of the skull may be either benign or malignant. Exact symptoms vary but typically include headaches, breathing difficulty, blurry vision, difficulty swallowing, loss of smell, hearing loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and memory loss.

Vestibular Schwannoma
Also known as acoustic neuroma, this benign, slow-growing tumor forms on the acoustic nerve of the inner ear. While it often requires no treatment other than careful monitoring, in some cases it grows large enough to create pressure on the brain, leading to hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness. If these symptoms become problematic, possible treatment options include surgery or radiation.

This tumor, normally benign, develops on the membranes surround the brain and spinal cord (the meninges). It is the most common type of head tumor, responsible for about one-third of all tumors in this region, and typically grows very slowly, often without producing any symptoms. If the meningioma presses against the brain, headache, weakness in the limbs, seizures, personality changes and vision problems may result, necessitating treatment.

Spinal Fluid Leaks
Watery fluid circulating through the cavities of the brain and spinal cord is known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF. When the skull bone is damaged – usually as a result of a head injury or surgery – this fluid may leak out through the nose or ear, resulting in headache, hearing loss, tinnitus and vision problems. Treatment usually involves bed rest and limited activity; if the issue does not resolve, endoscopic surgery may be required.

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