Audiology

At ENT Nebraska, we provide comprehensive audiology services including hearing evaluations, vestibular testing, hearing aids and bone-anchored hearing aids, and custom earplugs.

Meet our Audiologists

What is an Audiologist?

An Audiologist is a healthcare professional that provides services related to the prevention of hearing loss and the identification, assessment, and treatment of persons with impairment of hearing and/or balance disorders. Currently in the United States, an Audiologist must earn a doctoral level degree (AuD or PhD) from an accredited University in order to practice. At ENT Nebraska, we have three highly skilled Audiologists that are available to serve you.

Audiology Services

Hearing Evaluations

Our Audiologists perform comprehensive hearing evaluations for both pediatric and adult patients. Hearing tests are often ordered during a patient’s visit with an ENT physician, or they may be scheduled directly with an Audiologist. During a hearing test, the patient sits comfortably in a sound treated room and wears headphones. Traditionally, the patient is asked to raise their hand or push a button each time a beep is heard. By doing this, a person’s hearing sensitivity across a wide range of pitches is determined. Another part of the hearing test involves repeating back a list of words, which is important for determining how clearly a person’s ears and brain can process speech information.

When testing a young child’s hearing, the Audiologist must modify the hearing test to the developmental level of the child. The Audiologist may light up a toy every time the child turns their head toward to a sound, or may turn the test into a game by having the child put a peg in a board or dropping a block in the buck each time a sound is heard.

Other tests that we offer include tympanometry, which is a quick and reliable method to assess the movement of the eardrum and pressure of the middle ear space. We also may conduct a test called Otoacoustic Emissions, or OAEs, which assess the function of tiny hair cells within the inner ear.

Vestibular Testing

BPPV assessment and treatment

BPPV is an acronym for a vestibular disorder called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. BPPV is a common disorder, affecting up to 30% of patients that report a spinning sensation called vertigo. BPPV may affect people of all ages, but is most likely to develop in adults over the age of 50. BPPV diagnosis and treatment falls under the scope of practice of both Audiologists and Physical Therapists.

BPPV occurs when tiny crystal-like structures within the inner ear called otoconia detach from their normal position and migrate into one of the ear’s semicircular canals. If the “crystals” are present in one of the semicircular canals, then a person’s ear may send a signal of motion to the brain, the person becomes dizzy for a brief period. The dizziness is typically associated with head movements, such as rolling over in bend, laying down, bending over, or tilting the head up.

BPPV is diagnosed by having a patient lay down on a table with their head in different positions and observing the eyes for a repetitive beating motion called nystagmus. Once BPPV is diagnosed, it may be treated in the office using repositioning maneuvers that allow the “crystals” to escape the semicircular canal and be reabsorbed into their place of origin. The treatments are effective in relieving symptoms for 85-95% of patients.

VNG testing

A VNG is a battery of tests that measures the function of the vestibular, or balance, system by recording the movements of the eyes using goggles containing a high-tech camera. Eye movements give clues on the function of the balance system. The VNG assesses both central vestibular pathways within the brain and also peripheral function of the inner ear’s balance system. VNG tests are typically ordered by ENT physicians and performed by Audiologists.

The VNG is composed of three major parts: eye tracking, positional testing, and a water task. During the eye tracking tests, the patient is instructed to hold their gaze in different directions and track moving lights on a screen. During positional testing, the eyes are observed as the patient sits and/or lays with their head in a variety of positions.  During the water task, warm and cool water are ran in each ear canal for a brief time. The temperature of the water acts as a stimulus the inner ear—just as sound acts a stimulus to the ear during a hearing test—and the ear’s responses are reflected through eye movements.

Hearing Aids

The Audiologists at ENT Nebraska provide a full range of hearing aid services for adults and children. Our recommendations for hearing aids are always made with the patient’s best interest in mind, and are made by considering many factors including the type and degree of hearing loss, the person’s lifestyle, and the person’s communication needs and goals. Hearing aid technology has come a long way over the last several years and the companies are constantly coming out with improved features. Some developments of the last few years include rechargeable batteries and bluetooth hearing aids that can stream a phone call or music from your cell phone.

The experience with hearing aids is unique for each person, so what one person does not like may work well for another person. Our Audiologist are here to help you navigate the process and find the solutions that work best for you. We offer a 30-day trial period on all hearing devices, which is designed to protect you in case you are not satisfied with the investment. Our prices include all services that you may need for the whole life of the hearing aid, including all appointments to clean, adjust, or troubleshoot the hearing aids. Remember that you are paying for more than just the device itself, but also the professional expertise and compassionate care from an Audiologist you can trust.

Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids

A small percentage of people with hearing loss are potential candidates for a type hearing device called a BAHA, or a bone-anchored hearing aid. Part of the BAHA (the abutment) is surgically placed into the skull; the surgery is an outpatient procedure that is an hour or less in duration. The other part of the BAHA (the sound processor) is worn externally on the head. The sound processor is activated up to 12 weeks following the surgery.

Candidacy for a BAHA is based on the type of hearing loss. Some BAHA candidates have a conductive or mixed hearing loss. Patients with mixed or conductive hearing losses do not hear very well when sound is presented through their ear canal because structural problem(s) within their outer or middle ears significantly reduces the sound energy that reaches the inner ear. The BAHA works by directing sound directly to the inner ear, where persons with a conductive or mixed hearing loss have better hearing sensitivity. Other candidates for a BAHA have single-sided deafness, which is defined as normal hearing in one ear and a severe to profound hearing loss in the other ear. For these patients, the BAHA can detect sound on the side of the “bad ear” and redirect it toward the “good ear.”

BAHA candidates will meet with an Audiologist for comprehensive hearing testing and also an ENT Surgeon to discuss medical and surgical factors. Part of the evaluation includes a CT scan of the head.  Currently, our BAHA team at ENT Nebraska includes Dr. Darci Venem, Audiologist, and Dr. Aaron Robinson, ENT physician.

Custom Ear Plugs

Audiologists play an important role in educating patients on the risks of noise exposure and providing guidance on hearing protection. We offer a range of custom-fit earplugs for a variety of needs. Examples include swim plugs for keeping water out of the ears, hearing protection for musicians or frequent concert attendees, and hearing protection for hunters. If you are interested in discussing or ordering custom ear plugs, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our Audiologists. We will provide recommendations on the best options for you and take impressions of your ears.