Hearing loss is being partly or totally unable to hear sound in one or both ears.
Symptoms of hearing loss may include:
- Certain sounds seeming too loud
- Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking
- Difficulty hearing in noisy areas
- Trouble telling high-pitched sounds (such as "s" or "th") from one another
- Less trouble hearing men's voices than women's voices
- Problems hearing when there is background noise
- Hearing voices as mumbled or slurred
Other symptoms include:
- Feeling of being off-balance or dizzy (more common with Ménière's disease and acoustic neuroma)
- Feeling of pressure in the ear (in the fluid behind the eardrum)
- Ringing or buzzing sound in the ears (tinnitus)
Conductive hearing loss (CHL) occurs because of a mechanical problem in the outer or middle ear. This may be because:
- The three tiny bones of the ear (ossicles) are not conducting sound properly.
- The eardrum is not vibrating in response to sound.
Causes of conductive hearing loss can often be treated. They include:
- Buildup of wax in the ear canal
- Damage to the very small bones (ossicles) that are right behind the eardrum
- Fluid remaining in the ear after an ear infection
- Foreign object that is stuck in the ear canal
- Hole in the eardrum
- Scar on the eardrum from repeat infections
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- Hearing problems interfere with your lifestyle.
- Hearing problems do not go away or become worse.
- The hearing is worse in one ear than the other.
- You have sudden, severe hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- You have other symptoms, such as ear pain, along with hearing problems.
- You have new headaches, weakness, or numbness anywhere on your body.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The health care provider will take your medical history and do a physical exam.
Tests that may be done include:
- Audiometry (a hearing test used to check the type and amount of hearing loss)
- CT or MRI scan of the head (if a tumor or fracture is suspected)
The following surgeries may help some types of hearing loss:
- Eardrum repair
- Placing tubes in the eardrums to remove fluid
- Repair of the small bones in the middle ear (ossiculoplasty)
The following may help with long-term hearing loss:
Cochlear implants are only used in people who have lost too much hearing to benefit from a hearing aid.
Source: NIH MedlinePlus