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 eardrums or ear infections. Sensorineural causes of hearing loss are 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). 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
What is the Treatment for Hearing Loss?
The best treatment for hearing loss is to prevent it in the first place. Use of ear protection, earplugs, and avoidance of loud noises (especially repetitive noise) are all ways to help preserve your hearing.
Once hearing loss occurs, it can sometimes be treated but in most cases the hearing loss is permanent.
Treatments for hearing loss may include:
- Hearing aids are the most common treatment to restore hearing
- In some cases, placement of cochlear implants and surgery may cure conductive hearing loss
- Learning to cope with the condition, such as learning sign language or lip reading to help communicate
Ear Infection : Test Your Medical IQ QuizQuestion
Ear infection or acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear.See Answer
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Ear TubesEar infections are one of the most common infection in children. Environmental and anatomy problems occur and some children are prone to multiple ear infections. When this is the case, often, ear tubes surgery (myringotomy) is recommended. Parents and caregivers should prepare the child and themselves for the procedure. Knowing what to expect before, during, and after surgery is critical for proper healing.
Earache (Ear Pain)Earache is pain in the ear. An earache can be caused by infections or fungus. There are types of ear infections to include otitis externa, otitis externa (swimmer's ear), otitis media, and myringitis. Symptoms of an earache include pain in the ear, fever, fluid seeping from the ear, and headache. Treatment of earache depends on the cause.
Earwax (Excess Buildup and Blockage)Earwax, or cerumen, is a substance produced by the glands in the outer ear. Earwax has a purpose, and that is to trap dust and other small particles and prevent them from potentially damaging the eardrum. Causes of earwax buildup, blockage, or impaction include using Q tips or other objects to remove earwax. Symptoms of earwax buildup or blockage include decreased hearing, a fullness or plugged feeling in the ear, ear pain, dizziness, or ringing in the ear. Home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) medication (drops), and excess earwax buildup and blockage removal by your health care professional are treatments for earwax buildup.
Perforated (Ruputured) EardrumA perforated or ruptured eardrum is a tear or hole in the eardrum. Signs and symptoms of a ruptured eardrum include immediate, intense, or sharp pain in the affected ear, dizziness, hearing changes (tinnitus), hearing loss, and fluid draining from the ear. Causes of a perforated or ruptured eardrum are many and include infections, trauma, rapid changes in pressure, and blast waves from fireworks, gunshots, or other explosions.
Tinnitus (Ringing, Clicking, in the Ears)Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is a cause for hearing loss. Tinnitus also can be caused by ear infections, exposure to loud noises, Meniere's disease, medications, brain tumors, TMJ, and other medical conditions. Treatment for tinnitus depends upon the cause.
What Are Hearing Aids Used For?Hearing aids are electronic devices used to improve hearing. Hearing aids allow patients to hear sounds they have been unable to hear previously. People with hearing loss use them to hear speech more clearly (particularly over the phone), communicate more easily with others and communicate more easily in noisy situations such as large groups or loud environments.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.