About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a growing problem that about 48 million people are living with today, affecting people of all age ranges. As we age, hearing loss can cause depression, social isolation, and prevent us from being able to see dangerous situations.

Hearing loss is developed gradually, so you may not be able to know there is a problem until you realize what is happening.  On average, it takes people about seven years to get medical treatment.

How Is Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

Some symptoms to look for:

  • Asking people to repeat themselves frequently
  • Feeling like others are mumbling when they speak
  • Having trouble keeping up with conversations when background noise is present
  • Increasing volume on the TV or radio
  • Not attending social gatherings that take place in loud environments

To have hearing loss diagnosed, your doctor will need to talk with you about your symptoms, go over your medical history, and perform a physical exam with a hearing evaluation consisting of a series of audiological tests.

 

Types Of Hearing Loss

There are three different types of hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss

  • Very rarely, people can lose their hearing over just a few hours or days, rather than years. These rapid changes in hearing are a medical emergency and should consult medical professionals as soon as possible.
  • This can be caused by a variety of other conditions, including:
    • Infectious disease
    • Trauma, such as head injury
    • Abnormal tissue growth
    • Immunologic disease such as Coogan’s syndrome
    • Toxic causes, such as snake bite
    • Ototoxic drugs (drugs that harm the ear)
    • Circulatory problems
    • Neurologic causes such as multiple sclerosis
    • Relation to disorders such as Ménière’s disease

Single sided hearing loss

  • Single-sided hearing is a consistent problem throughout the US. It can be caused by a number of different factors including chemotherapy, trauma, illness, or surgical complications.  One ear hearing loss can lead to a more serious problem such as acoustic neuroma or skull base tumors.  It can also have negative effects on your ability to localize sounds and balance.
    • The most common symptoms include:
      • Being unable to decipher where a sound is coming from
      • Difficulty determining background noise and target sound like speech
      • Inability to hear anything from one direction
    • Some other conditions that can be caused by unilateral hearing loss are:
      • Physical trauma
      • Acoustic neuroma
      • Microtia
      • Diseases like meningitis, mumps, or measles
      • Sudden deafness
      • Inner ear infections
      • Tumors in the ear or brain
      • Pressure on the hearing nerve
    • Even though there is not a cure for this condition, there are some amazing technologies and treatments available to help restore your hearing sensation of the deaf side.
  • Inner ear perfusions/infections
    • Inner ear perfusions are given to patients through infection and are sometimes used with sudden hearing loss, Ménière’s disease, and other inner ear disorders.

Types Of Hearing Tests

Audiograms

  • The only way to ensure you are keeping your hearing is with regular hearing tests. The tests allow doctors to study your hearing in a variety of different ways and keep track of how well you hear on an audiograph for an overall picture of how well you hear.

Tympanograms

  • Tympanometry is a hearing test that evaluates how well your inner ear functions by measuring how your eardrum reacts to air pressure. It is beneficial in determining middle ear problems, such as conductive hearing loss.  The results from this test are laid out on a Tympanogram, which will tell if your hearing is normal or abnormal.

Acoustic reflexes

  • Acoustic reflex tests are a method used to measure how well your inner ear functions along with your hearing ability. Involuntary muscle contractions from exposure to noise in the middle ear is measured.  If unusual or uncommon responses occur, it can show problems with the cochlea, auditory nerve, brainstem, ossicles, or facial nerve.

Optoacoustic emissions

  • Better known as OAE, a hearing test that evaluates the function of your inner ears by stimulating the cochlea and causing its tiny hair cells to vibrate in response. This gives off a faint noise referred to as an optoacoustic emission, which is assessed using a microphone in the ear canal.  These tests are used on patients of all ages and are very good at detecting sensorineural hearing loss.

 

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