Hearing and Balance Disorders FAQs

Hearing and balance disorders can make life frustrating and difficult. But, with help from the experienced board-certified ear doctors at SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat, you can get an accurate diagnosis and effective care. We have four ENT clinics along the 405 including in Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach, California, so call the office nearest you or book with online scheduling now.

What is a hearing disorder?

A hearing disorder is a condition that affects the way you interpret sound. Hearing disorders can range in severity from mild to severe, and they may be temporary or permanent. Some hearing disorders are congenital (present at birth) and others develop gradually.

Some common hearing disorder symptoms are:

  • Muffled sound
  • Tinnitus: a ringing, buzzing, or roaring noise in your ears
  • Sensation of a plugged ear
  • Ear pain, swelling, leaking, itching, or irritation
  • Difficulty understanding speech clearly
  • Needing to ask others to repeat themselves often
  • Increased need for louder volume

Hearing disorders can affect your inner, middle, or outer ear. Some are mixed, affecting two parts of your ear at once.

What is a balance disorder?

A balance disorder occurs when you have a problem in your vestibular system, the inner ear parts that regulate balance.

Balance disorders can cause disorienting sensations, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Off-balance feeling
  • Floating sensation
  • Spinning sensation
  • Moving sensation when sitting or standing still

Vertigo, an uncomfortable spinning sensation, often occurs in balance disorders. Some of the most common causes of vertigo include Ménière’s disease, vestibular neuritis, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

How do you diagnose hearing and balance disorders?

To diagnose hearing and balance disorders, the SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat team performs a physical exam and checks your ears visually using a lighted tool. They’ll discuss your symptoms and look closely at your medical history to form a preliminary diagnosis.

Depending on the suspected hearing or balance disorder, the team may perform specific hearing tests such as:

Tuning fork

A tuning fork generates sounds that can show whether you have a hearing disorder and, if so, where it occurs in your ear.


In an audiometer test, which an audiologist typically performs, you wear headphones and respond to tones at varying levels. This test can reveal whether you have a hearing disorder and how severe.

There are also a variety of other advanced tests that the team at SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat may use to accurately diagnose hearing and balance disorders.

Treatment Options

The team at SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat always tailors your diagnosis and care for your personal needs. For hearing disorders caused by age or noise exposure, hearing aids can be very helpful. Some people may need cochlear implants to hear clearly again.

For temporary hearing loss caused by earwax buildup or other treatable conditions, medication or nonsurgical treatments are often effective. Additionally, lifestyle changes like improved ear hygiene and wearing hearing protection can help avoid recurring issues.

Balance disorder treatment depends on the underlying cause. It’s important to make your home environment as safe as possible by installing non-skid flooring and making other recommended changes. Some balance disorders respond well to medication, and others may require surgery for lasting relief.

Schedule a Hearing or Balance Disorder Consultation

The board-certified ENT specialists at SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat is here to help with all balance and hearing disorders. Call the Southern California ENT clinic nearest you or click the online booking tool anytime. We have offices in Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Long Beach, and Newport Beach.