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Hearing Loss (cont.)

What Are the Exams and Tests to Diagnose Hearing Loss?

In most medical offices or in the emergency department, doctors do not have access to equipment to directly test your hearing (an audiometer). In these settings the doctor will most likely evaluate your hearing with a tuning fork. The examination may include the following:

  • Each ear will be tested separately to see if you can hear the sound coming from a tuning fork. The tuning fork will also be placed on top of or in the front of your head to assess on which side the sound may be louder.
  • The ear canal and tympanic membrane will be inspected with an otoscope (a special instrument with a light and a tip to look into the ear canal).
  • The nose, nasopharynx (the part of your throat that your ears drain into, located just above your soft palate), and upper respiratory tract usually will be carefully examined.
  • A general neurologic exam, which includes tests of the nerves that control movement, sensation, and reflexes, will be done.
  • If a process inside the brain (such as an acoustic neuroma) is suspected, a CT scan or MRI of the brain may be performed.
  • If an infection, vascular problem, or drug interaction is suspected, blood tests may be performed.
  • Tympanometry may be indicated if a problem with the tympanic membrane (eardrum) is suspected. This test evaluates the ability of the tympanic membrane to move and the middle ear’s ability to receive sound waves.

Are There Home Remedies for Hearing Loss?

When the cause of the hearing loss is unknown, it is best to seek medical attention.

  • If you know that earwax has built up in the ear, over-the-counter preparations can be used to soften the wax so that it can come out of the ear on its own.
  • Never use cotton swabs to probe into or clean the ear canal. Do not place cotton balls and liquids into the ear canal.
  • Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lower fever or pain until you can see a doctor.
  • If you have hearing loss that cannot be cured, hearing aids can be of great benefit.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2016
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Inner Ear, Sudden Hearing Loss »

Definitions of sudden hearing loss have been based on severity, time course, audiometric criteria, and frequency spectrum of the loss.

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