Hearing and Balance Evaluations

The Otolaryngology Department at the University of Kansas Medical Center offers hearing and balance evaluations. These exams evaluate hearing loss and balance problems. Evaluations are performed at KU MedWest and The University of Kansas Medical Center by our Doctors of Audiology, Rebecca Hanneman, Rachel Henrickson, Lindsay Lad, Christy Maddux, Katie Plum and Elizabeth Ripley.

Do you have problems hearing?  
Hearing loss is a common health condition affecting millions of Americans in all age groups with causes that include advanced age, damage, blockage and nervous system conditions. A hearing evaluation from our experienced audiology team will gauge your level of hearing loss, diagnose the cause and prescribe a treatment plan.  

Do you have problems with balance or experience dizziness?  
Balance issues and dizziness can be symptoms of another problem such as an inner ear condition. Our audiologists offer complete balance testing that evaluates your balance function, diagnoses the cause and provides insight for a treatment plan. Our balance battery of tests may include videonystagmography (VNG), rotary chair testing, vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) and video head impulse testing.   If you are experiencing hearing or balance problems, please contact (913) 588-6701 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation with one of our doctors of audiology. Seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing unexplained and sudden hearing loss, trauma or injury, episodes of falling down and problems walking.


Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears when there is no external sound present. The noise could be a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing sound. Tinnitus can be a symptom of an underlying condition such as hearing loss, ear injury, cerumen impaction (ear wax) or circulatory system disorder.

One in five people are affected by tinnitus, however, you should consult your audiologist or doctor if it becomes bothersome. You should also see a doctor if tinnitus develops after an upper respiratory infection, does not go away within a week, occurs suddenly without any cause, or you experience hearing loss or dizziness with it.   If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, please contact us at (913) 588-6701 to schedule an appointment.

Hearing Aids

Selecting a Hearing Aid
A hearing aid is a small device that brings sound into the ear and amplifies it for the user. There are several options available for hearing device styles, features and accessories. If a hearing aid is prescribed as treatment for your hearing loss, the Otolaryngology Department at the University of Kansas Medical Center offers assistance with selection and fitting. 

Your audiologist can help you select the best hearing aid and accessories for you based on your medical history, needs and expectations. You can also discuss repairs and warranties for your hearing aid with your audiologist.  

Hearing Aid Styles   
All hearing aids have the same basic parts that bring sound from the environment into the ear with different styles available. The main styles include:

  • The completely in the canal (CIC) and mini CIC hearing aids, which are molded to fit your ear canal. They improve mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.
  • The in the canal (ITC) hearing aid, which is custom molded and fits partly in the ear canal. It improves mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.
  • The in the ear (ITE) hearing aid, which is custom made and either fills most of the outer ear or only the lower part. Both versions improve hearing for people with mild to severe hearing loss. 
  • A behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid, which hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear with small tube that delivers sound to the ear. People of all ages with any level of hearing loss can use this style. This style also comes in an open fit version that keeps the ear canal open to allow for low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally while amplifying high-frequency sounds.    

Hearing Aid Accessories  
There are basic and optional accessories available for most hearing aid styles. Basic accessories are items that are needed for the regular use and maintenance of your hearing aid. They include batteries, maintenance tools and carry cases.   Optional accessories are not needed for the regular use of your hearing aid; however, they may make using your hearing aid easier. They include custom earmolds, dehumidifiers and Bluetooth® streaming devices. We offer Bluetooth streaming devices that turn your hearing aids into headphones to listen to music or place hands-free calls, microphones to help you hear in noisy environments, and streaming devices that send the TV signal to the hearing aids for a clearer sound.   We offer custom swim plugs, musicians plugs and in-ear monitors. Remember to check an accessory's compatibility with your hearing aid model.    

Hearing Aid Repairs  
Due to daily use, your hearing aid may need to be repaired. Repairs can range from simple common repairs to extensive damage repairs. Your audiologist will show you how to perform common repairs such as replacing the battery, cleaning the hearing aid and checking the settings.   If common repairs do not work or your hearing aid has visible damage, it may need damage repairs. Your audiologist can assess the damage and assist with getting the repair, which is typically completed by the device's manufacturer. Repair costs will vary depending on the extent of damage and the warranty included with your hearing aid.   Contact us at (913) 588-6701 to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists to discuss the best hearing aid for you.    

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is an electronic device designed to provide direct stimulation to the auditory (hearing) nerve. Adults and children with significant hearing loss, who cannot benefit from traditional hearing aids, may be candidates for a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing or "cure" a hearing loss. The device is able to provide a representation of sound through electrical impulses, which allows for improved communication and awareness of environmental sounds. How a person benefits from a cochlear implant depends on many factors including age of implantation, when the hearing loss was acquired (before or after language acquisition), and motivation to use the device. 

A cochlear implant consists of two parts. An internal part, including a receiver and electrodes, is surgically implanted in the ear by an otologist (ear surgeon). The receiver sits just behind the ear, under the skin. The electrodes are placed in the inner ear (cochlea) to bypass the tiny hair cells (sensory cells) and stimulate the hearing nerve directly. An external part consisting of microphones, a speech processor, and a transmitter is worn on the ear, just like a behind-the-ear hearing aid. The microphones pick up the sounds and send them to the speech processor to be analyzed. The speech processor then sends the information about sound to the internal device through the transmitter, worn on the head, behind the ear.  

To determine if you or your child is a candidate for a cochlear implant, a comprehensive evaluation must be completed. The evaluation includes the following steps:  

Audiological Evaluation by a Cochlear Implant Audiologist:
A comprehensive audiological evaluation is conducted to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. Additionally, speech perception testing is completed with appropriately fit hearing aids. It is important that the patient brings his or her hearing aids to the appointment. The audiologist will review the results of the testing and discuss cochlear implants with you in detail.  

Medical Evaluation:
This is an appointment with the otologist (ear surgeon). The doctor will review your medical history to determine if you are surgically a candidate for a cochlear implant. The risks and benefits of cochlear implantation and a detailed review of the surgery will also be discussed with you. If necessary, additional testing may be ordered.

Vestibular Evaluation

The vestibular system is the parts of the inner ear and the brain that help control balance and eye movement. When this system is damaged, a vestibular disorder can result. Vestibular disorders include vertigo and dizziness, imbalance and spatial disorientation, vision disturbance, hearing changes, and cognitive and psychological changes.

Vestibular evaluations are tests that help determine if there is a problem with the vestibular system. These tests include electronystagmography (ENG), electrocochleography (ECOG), rotational chair test, posturography and fistula test.   If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms of a vestibular disorder, you should consult a doctor. Please contact us at (913) 588-6701 to schedule an appointment for a vestibular evaluation.

Last modified: Oct 13, 2017
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