Audiology

The audiology clinics in both Hillcrest and La Jolla provide diagnostic hearing evaluations to inpatients and outpatients. Each patient, caregiver and/or family member receives individual instruction and counseling related to hearing loss and hearing aids.

The latest in digital programmable hearing aids are available for hearing impaired patients to purchase.

    More about hearing loss at UC San Diego Health System.

    Hearing Testing

    There are several ways in which hearing is evaluated. Tests include:

    Audiometry

    This is a standard “hearing test.” You will wear headphones and be asked to raise your hand when you hear soft beeps. Determines whether hearing loss is present, and if so, how much and what type.

    Immittance tests

    Immittance tests evaluate the function of the structures in the middle ear and eardrum.

    Two types of immittance tests:

    1. Tympanometry - A measurement of outer and middle ear function. You will wear a soft rubber earplug, and our computer will automatically measure the movement of your eardrum in response to pressure changes. This determines whether your outer and middle ear systems are functioning normally.
    2. Acoustic Reflex Assessments - Acoustic reflex testing is a measurement of how sound travels through your auditory pathway. You will wear a soft rubber earplug and you will hear some loud beeps. Our computer will automatically measure your auditory pathway’s response to these beeps.

    Speech perception testing

    Assesses how well you hear and understand speech. You will wear headphones and be asked to repeat words at soft and normal conversational levels.

    Otoacoustic emissions (OAE)

    Assesses your inner ear function. You will wear a soft earphone and hear some electronic noises. Our computer will automatically measure your ear’s response to these noises.

    Auditory brainstem response (ABR)

    Assesses how sound travels through your auditory system. A few small areas on your head will be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and electrodes that look like stickers will be placed on your skin. These electrodes are to measure your auditory system’s response to sound. You will hear some clicking noises during the test. You can relax or even sleep during testing.

    Auditory brainstem response (ABR)

    Assesses how sound travels through your auditory system. A few small areas on your head will be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and electrodes that look like stickers will be placed on your skin. These electrodes measure your auditory system’s response to sound. You will hear some clicking noises during the test. You can relax or even sleep during testing.

    Auditory brainstem response electrocochleography (ECoG)

    This test is helpful in diagnosing Ménière's disease and other disorders of the inner ear. Your ear canal will be gently cleaned and a foam earphone will be inserted. Electrodes that look like stickers will be placed on your skin to record your auditory system’s response to sound. You will hear some clicking noises during the test. You can relax or even sleep during testing.

    Hearing Aids and Assistive Devices

    Assistive devices include any tool that increases communication for a person with a speech, voice, language or hearing loss disorder. The following devices are available at UC San Diego.

    Programmable digital hearing aids

    Today’s hearing aids are more discreet and technologically advanced than ever before. Each hearing aid is programmed to match prescribed targets for your specific hearing needs. Hearing aid purchase includes a 30-day trial period, enabling you to try the hearing aids risk-free to experience how they may benefit you.

    Hearing aid accessories and maintenance (batteries, repair and cleaning services)

    We provide comprehensive troubleshooting of any issues you may be experiencing with your hearing aids. Sophisticated accessories, such as remote controls, TV adapters, and Bluetooth cellphone interfaces, are also available.

    Assistive listening devices (ALDs)

    Available for trial use or purchase.

    CROS/BiCROS hearing aids

    For deafness in one ear, or asymmetric hearing loss - If you have deafness in one ear, and your other ear is normal or has a more mild hearing loss, CROS/BiCROS may help. This technology uses two parts: a transmitter and a receiver. Both parts look like small hearing aids. The transmitter is worn on the poorer ear; the receiver is on the better ear. The transmitter picks up sound and sends it to the receiver, so that sound on the poorer side is sent to the better ear.

    CROS/BiCROS hearing aid purchase includes a 30-day trial period, enabling you to try this technology.

    Osseointegrated bone conduction devices (Baha)

    For deafness in one ear, or from hearing loss caused by issues in the outer or middle ear.

    Baha is an implanted hearing device that sends sound signals to the inner ear through vibration. If you have deafness in one ear, Baha will pick up sound from the poorer ear and send it to the normal-hearing ear. If you have hearing loss caused by problems in the outer or middle ear (conductive hearing loss), Baha will bypass these problems and stimulate the inner ear directly.

    While Baha is a surgically-placed device, you can experience listening through the Baha as part of our evaluation to determine if this technology is right for you.

    Custom earplugs

    Protects your ears from noise. These are made to fit perfectly into your ears and come in a variety of colors.

    Musician’s earplugs are custom-shaped for your ear and include filters that maintain the balance and quality of music, while protecting your ears from damage.

    Swimming/surfing plugs are custom-shaped for your ears and protect your ears from water. These can prevent two common conditions: “swimmer’s ear” (otitis externa) and “surfer’s ear” (exostoses). Exostoses are bony growths in the ear canal caused by exposure to cold wind or water.

    Tinnitus Treatment

    Tinnitus can be caused by several different things: age, earwax buildup, medications, or disorder (e.g., thyroid disorder,  Ménière's disease). If treating the cause of tinnitus doesn't alleviate symptoms, there are devices that can help.

    Neuromonics treatment

    This device uses headphones to deliver spectrally modified music embedded with a special stimulus. The sounds are customized for your hearing and tinnitus profile and are designed to train the brain to filter out tinnitus.

    Hearing aids and tinnitus maskers

    These devices provide additional input to the auditory system and may help mask tinnitus. Some hearing aids have specialized programs that provide stimulation designed to reduce tinnitus.

    Cochlear Implants

    When the hair cells in the cochlea are damaged, sound is unable to reach the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants helps bypass these damaged hair cells and provide direct stimulation to the auditory nerve, thereby restoring hearing.

    Candidacy assessment

    Candidacy assessment consists of hearing testing with and without hearing aids, plus medical evaluations. The assessment also includes thorough discussion of how the technology works and what you can expect, and if this technology might benefit you.

    Cochlear implants are typically recommended for those who are struggling with hearing aids. Cochlear implants send sound directly to the hearing nerve, bypassing any damage that may be present in the cochlea (inner ear organ).

    Programming and troubleshooting

    After the cochlear device (e.g., Advanced Bionics, Cochlear) is implanted, the audiologist will adjust the device to provide the most comfortable level of stimulation through a process called mapping.

    Vestibular (Dizziness) Evaluation

    The vestibular system is vital to daily function and activities as it helps maintain body and head posture. If damaged in childhood, the vestibular system can greatly impact development. The following tests help diagnose a vestibular system injury. 

    Videonystagmography (VNG)

    This is a comprehensive examination of your vestibular (inner ear balance) system. During the test, you will wear goggles that have tiny video cameras to record your eye movements. First, you will be sitting upright and watching some moving lights. Second, you will be moved from sitting to laying down in various positions. Finally, your ears will be rinsed with cold and warm water. During each portion, the goggles will record your vestibular system’s response by tracking eye movements.

    Vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP)

    This test examines a balance organ in the inner ear called the saccule and can be helpful in diagnosing  Ménière's disease. You will wear a foam earphone and hear some clicking noises. During the test, you will lay down and raise your head using your neck muscles. Recording electrodes will take a measurement of your system’s response.

    Electrocochleography (EcoG)

    This test is helpful in diagnosing Ménière's disease and other disorders of the inner ear. Your ear canal will be gently cleaned and a foam earphone will be inserted. Electrodes that look like stickers will be placed on your skin to record your auditory system’s response to sound. You will hear some clicking noises during the test. You can relax or even sleep during testing.

    Facial Nerve Evaluation

    Facial nerve damage has a huge impact on the muscles of the face. One of our audiologists will assess the extent of facial nerve damage and muscle weakness with the following test:

    Electroneuronography (EnoG)

    This test measures how well the facial nerve works. It may be a useful test for patients experiencing facial nerve difficulties, possibly related to Bell’s Palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, injury, or other causes. A few areas of your head and neck will be cleaned with rubbing alcohol and electrodes will be placed on your skin. Small pulses will activate your facial nerve, and a response will be measured to determine how well your facial nerve functions.

    Audiology Team

    • Erika M. Zettner, PhD, CCC-A
    • Meghan K. Spriggs, AuD, CCC-A
    • Deborah Wian, MA, CCC-A
    • Genevieve Harris, MA
    • Anne Basile, MA, FAAA

    Locations

    Hillcrest

    Medical Offices North
    200 W. Arbor Drive
    San Diego, CA 92103
    619-543-5683

    La Jolla

    Perlman Medical Offices, Lower Level
    9350 Campus Point Dr.
    La Jolla, CA 92037
     858-657-8590