Hearing Loss: Symptoms, Types, Causes and Treatment

Hearing is one of the primary senses that allow us to effectively communicate in the variety of listening situations we encounter each and every day. Healthy and properly functioning ears enable us to perceive sounds from a large range of frequencies, allowing us to hear in easy or very difficult listening situations. The human ear is an astounding part of our anatomy that enables us to properly develop speech and language, communicate with loved ones, and connect to the world in a variety of settings.

Hearing loss is usually gradual in nature as well as painless so you may not even realize your hearing has decreased. Here are some early warning signs of hearing loss:

  • Ringing and/or Buzzing (also known as tinnitus)
  • Muffled sounds that result in difficulty hearing clearly
  • Difficulty understanding words or conversations
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves or speak slowly
  • Constantly increasing the volume of the TV or radio
  • Avoiding social gatherings due to difficulty hearing and engaging in conversation

The type of hearing loss that you have determines your treatment plan. These are the four major types of hearing loss:

  1. Sensorineural: This is the most common type of hearing loss. It is often due to age, genetics, or noise exposure and is caused when tiny hairs in the cochlear are missing or damaged.
  2. Conductive: This type of loss is due to problems with the ear canal or middle ear. It can be caused by things like earwax buildup or fluid in the middle ear.
  3. Mixed: This loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
  4. Central: Strokes and central nerve diseases are the leading cause of this type of hearing loss.

These are some common causes of hearing loss:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Side effects of medication
  • Diseases and Illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and ear infections
  • Head Trauma

Every situation is unique, so after each evaluation, the following preventative measures and treatments for your hearing loss may be recommended:

  • Hearing Aids
  • Custom Ear Protection
  • Aural Rehabilitation
  • Tinnitus Management

Balance and Your Ears

Balance disorders come with different symptoms. These symptoms can happen all the time or just occasionally. They could come on suddenly or be triggered by something like a position change, head movement, or sound stimulation. Some signs and symptoms of balance problems include:

  • Difficulty walking or moving around
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Falling
  • Headaches
  • Motion sickness
  • Nausea
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vertigo or feeling that the room is spinning
  • Blurry vision

Underlying conditions may cause balance problems and dizziness so it’s important to find out the cause as soon as possible. Some of these causes may be:

  • Cardiovascular or circulation problems
  • Head injury
  • Injury to the ear or vestibular system
  • Inner ear disorders
  • Medication side effects
  • Neurological diseases or disorders
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tumors on the acoustic nerve
  • Viruses and other infections

Due to the nature of balance disorders, multiple doctors may be working together to assist you. An audiologist will first test your hearing and examine your ears. From there they can provide balance testing to help identify the cause of your balance problems and/or dizziness. Based on this information, they can make recommendations for treatment. We have specialized equipment to assist with this testing.

Sometimes balance problems require medical management such as surgery or medication, however, audiologists and other rehabilitation professionals can help improve your balance and reduce bothersome symptoms. They can offer vestibular rehabilitation treatment options such as repositioning procedures.

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