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Symptoms and Signs of Hearing Loss

Doctor's Notes on Hearing Loss

There are two basic types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing losses result from physical problems with the movement of sound waves through the ear. An example is blockage of the ear canal that may be caused by wax build-up, blood, or a foreign body. Other types of conductive hearing loss may be caused by perforated eardrum or ear infections. Sensorineural causes of hearing loss are from damage to the hair cells or nerves that sense sound waves. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by trauma, medications, infections, and aging. Hearing loss may be unilateral (only 1 ear) or bilateral (both ears). The unilateral hearing loss is most often associated with conductive causes, trauma, and acoustic neuromas.

Hearing loss may be gradual or sudden, mild or severe. Hearing loss may be associated with other symptoms such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus), spinning sensation (vertigo), pain in the ear, and fever.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.