Deafness/Hearing Impairment/Confusion Regarding Specialities


I've experienced 2 episodes with very definitive beginnings and endings, plus (now...ongoing) a third situation with MOST of the same symptoms as before. My GP is of no help. In fact; he ordered a MRI of my brain with a special focus on my left ear and never conveyed the test results. I ended up going to the hospital myself to obtain the written report and a copy of the MRI on CD.

In the past, I've seen a neurosurgeon regarding a loss of feeling in my legs/hands. That physician lists "neurotology" as one of his areas of expertise. Apparently that term is somewhat rare as it sometimes generates a spell check. The term ENT is the more common specialty for physicians who deal with ear related issues.

I'm confused as to which specialty I should seek out for my symptoms which include: temporary hearing loss (first 2 episodes), vertigo, dizziness, loss of balance, sensation mimicking water in one ear.


Jim Carter

It's true you don't see nerotologist often....a more common term is otologist (specialist if the ear only).  Nerotologist focuses on brain to ear relationship.

Whatever the should have been given some report on your MRI.  Unfortunately our healthcare world is becoming to accepting of "no news is good news".  You should always get some report from the doctor that sent you as well as a follow up plan of action based on the MRI results.

I will assume the results were normal.  It is typical to get an MRI and to focus on one ear or the other, depending on reported symptoms or physicians observation on exam.  They would be looking for a tumor pushing on the auditory nerve or vestibular (balance) nerve.

Your symptoms sound like Ménière's disease.  It is an overproduction of fluid in the inner ear and balance system.  Not an ear infection....that's a different kind of fluid.  Ménière's is also called Endolymphatic Hydrops.  It causes vertigo episodes....fluctuating hearing loss....roaring tinnitus, sounding like water.  The episodes can have some, one or all symptoms.  They can last for hours, days, weeks or lifetime.  Many people have Ménière's and the degree of impairment it can cause varies by individual.  I've had some patients that function just fine day to day and live a normal life and I've had others have to go on full disability because they couldn't make it through the day without a violent episode.  

Treatment for Ménière's is very limited.  Low/no salt diet is immediately recommended and possibly a diuretic...,.this is to reduce fluid retention.  Don't start any diuretic without clearing with your doctor first.  If you symptoms are violent and life altering....then an ENT that specializes in balance problems would be good to seek out.  They will sometimes inject a steroid type medication into the inner ear but this is a specialized procedure and you want someone who is skilled in doing it and getting good results.  I have sent several patients for this treatment and many get wonderful lady had to have it done again after about 15 yrs, her symptoms came back....I've had a few have terrible results.  It depends on the skill if the ENT doing the procedure.  It often takes several injections .  There is also a surgery that can be done for very severe Ménière's cases.  It's an Endolymphatic shunt placement.  Very invasive....they place a shunt to drain the excessive fluid.  It doesn't sound like you are anywhere near needing the surgery level of treatment....which is good.  You really want to research surgeons, otologist, if you have to go to that extreme.  It is not a routine procedure so you want someone who is very skilled doing it.

So the specialist "title" isn't as big a deal as finding one who is experienced in working with balance problems and/or Ménière's.  By the way, there is no "test" for Ménière' is a diagnosis based on symptoms.

Thank you for your question.
Kelley Linton, AuD.

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

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Dr. Kelley Linton


I'm an audiologist in private practice in Arkansas. I graduated from the University of Florida medical school. I specialize in hearing loss; hearing rehabilitation; hearing aids; noise induced hearing loss; occupational noise exposure; OSHA guidelines and regulations; hearing protection; tinnitis; newborn hearing testing; children and hearing loss and diagnosis and etiology of hearing loss.


I've been a practicing audiologist for 20 years and have owned a private practice for 14 years. I am also an audiologist in the United States Army where I teach DOD hearing conservation regulations and manage 3000 DOD employees at an army industrial facility.

Arkansas Academy of Audiology American Academy of Audiology Academy of Doctors of Audiology American Speech and Hearing Association National Hearing Conservation Association

Journal of the Academy of Audiology Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Arkansas Press Argus Courier, Van Buren, Arkansas

Au.D. - Doctor of Audiology, University of Florida American Academy of Audiology fellow member Audiology Board Certification American Speech and Hearing Association certification Arkansas State Audiology license-current CPT United States Army Medical Corps

Awards and Honors
American Speech and Hearing Association "ACE" award x 7 years United States Army Accommodation Award Arkansas Academy of Audiology elected board of director x 3 years Better community award, Fort Smith, AR for volunteer audiology service to free community health clinic

Past/Present Clients
Serving newborn to geriatric ages.....unable to provide specific names.

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