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Hearing Loss (cont.)

What Are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss may be gradual or sudden. Hearing loss may be very mild, resulting in minor difficulties with conversation, or as severe as complete deafness. The speed with which hearing loss occurs may give clues as to the cause.

  • If hearing loss is sudden, it may be from trauma, acute inflammation, or a problem with blood circulation. A gradual onset is suggestive of other causes such as aging or a tumor.
  • If you also have other associated neurological problems, such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or vertigo (spinning sensation), it may indicate a problem with the nerves in the ear or brain.
  • Hearing loss may be unilateral (only 1 ear) or bilateral (both ears). Unilateral hearing loss is most often associated with conductive causes, trauma, and acoustic neuromas.
  • Pain in the ear is associated with ear infections, trauma, and obstruction in the canal. Ear infections may also cause a fever.

When Should I Call the Doctor about Hearing Loss?

If you cannot determine the cause of your hearing loss, see a doctor. Other symptoms that require a trip to the doctor include the following:

  • Your hearing loss is sudden and prolonged. This is considered a hearing emergency and better outcomes are typically associated with rapid evaluation and treatment. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss persists throughout the day and should be evaluated as an emergency.
  • You have associated symptoms such as ringing in the ears or vertigo.
  • You have a fever or pain.
  • You are taking any medications that affect hearing.

Do not delay getting medical attention if your hearing loss is associated with any of the following:

  • Signs or symptoms of other serious neurologic conditions such as a stroke (slurred speech, facial drop, difficulty moving one side of your body)
  • Recent or present foreign body in the ear
  • Fluid or blood coming from the ear
  • Recent pressure changes (diving)
  • Fever not controlled with acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Severe trauma to the head
  • Sudden unilateral hearing loss
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2016
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