Hearing Loss and Deafness
- Conductive—hearing loss caused by the inability of the sound to reach the inner ear
- Sensorineural—hearing loss caused by disorders of the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type of loss is usually permanent.
- Mixed—hearing losses that are a combination of both conductive and sensorineural loss
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- Ear infections
- Middle ear fluid
- Hole in the ear drum
- Trauma , including birth trauma
Nose or throat problems, such as:
- Nasal allergies
- Sinus problems
- Blockage of the tubes leading from the ears to the throat
- Family history
- Ear disorders, such as:
Infections, such as:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections, such as:
Tumors involving the:
- Neurological disorders, such as:
- Hypothyroidism —underactive thyroid
Ototoxic drugs that damage the ear, such as:
- Aspirin—usually reverses when aspirin is stopped
- Quinine—usually reverses when quinine is stopped
- Certain antibiotics—usually is not reversible when stopped
- Premature birth
- Increased age
- Taking ototoxic medications
Exposure to loud noise on the job, such as:
- Loud industrial noise
- Use of heavy equipment
- Being a musician
Exposure to recreational loud noise, such as:
- Guns used during target practice
- Loud music
- Difficulty hearing
- Ringing in the ears, also called tinnitus
- A sensation of spinning
- Ear pain
- Feeling of ear fullness, such as that caused by earwax or fluid
- 1 to 4 months: lack of response to sounds or voices
4 to 8 months:
- Disinterest in musical toys
- Lack of verbalization, such as babbling, cooing, and making sounds
- 8 to 12 months: lack of recognition of child’s own name
- 12 to 16 months: lack of speech
- Location of the problem
- Degree of loss
- Cause—not always possible to identify the exact cause of hearing loss; this information can help guide treatment
- A brainstem auditory evoked response test
- Bone vibrator—also called a tuning fork test
- Audiogram —also called a hearing test
- Medical treatment, such as removal of earwax or use of antibiotics to treat an ear infection
- In selected cases of sudden hearing loss, medical treatment with steroids may be effective.
- Hearing aids to help amplify sounds
Surgery, such as:
- Stapedectomy—for treatment of otosclerosis
- Tympanoplasty —for a perforated eardrum
- Tympanoplasty tubes—for persistent middle ear infections or fluid
- Cochlear implant —a surgically implanted electronic device that helps provide sound to a person with severe sensorineural hearing loss. Although the devices do not completely restore hearing, improvements in implant technology continue to be made.
- Learning sign language or lip reading to improve communication skills
American Academy of Audiology http://www.audiology.org
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders http://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Canadian Academy of Audiology http://www.canadianaudiology.ca
Canadian Association of the Deaf http://www.cad.ca
Deafness and hearing loss. World Health Organization website. Available at: http://www.who.int/topics/deafness/en. Accessed September 17, 2014.
Deafness and hearing loss research. The Scripps Research Institute website. Available at: http://www.scripps.edu/discover/deafness.html. Accessed September 17, 2014.
Hearing, ear infections, and deafness. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/Default.aspx. Accessed September 17, 2014.
Hearing loss. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Hearing-Loss. Accessed September 17, 2014.
Plaza G, Herráiz C. Intratympanic steroids for treatment of sudden hearing loss after failure of intravenous therapy. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007 Jul;137(1):74-8.
What is hearing loss? NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/hearinglossdefined/01.html . Accessed September 17, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/17/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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