Hearing Loss – About
Hearing loss can occur at any age and for a variety of reasons. A better awareness and understanding of how the sounds around you affect your hearing can help you prevent hearing loss and maintain healthy ear function.
To get an idea of the decibel levels of commonly occurring sounds around you check out our interactive Loudness Scale
Hearing Loss – Diagnosis
Tests to diagnose hearing loss may include:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will look in your ear for possible causes of your hearing loss, such as earwax or inflammation from an infection. Your doctor will also look for any structural causes of your hearing problems.
- General screening tests. Your doctor may ask you to cover one ear at a time to see how well you hear words spoken at various volumes and how you respond to other sounds.
- Tuning fork tests. Tuning forks are two-pronged, metal instruments that produce sounds when struck. Simple tests with tuning forks can help your doctor detect hearing loss. A tuning fork evaluation may also reveal whether hearing loss is caused by damage to the vibrating parts of your middle ear (including your eardrum), damage to sensors or nerves of your inner ear, or damage to both.
- Audiometer tests. During these more-thorough tests conducted by an audiologist, you wear earphones and hear sounds directed to one ear at a time. The audiologist presents a range of sounds of various tones and asks you to indicate each time you hear the sound.
Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find out when you can barely hear. The audiologist will also present various words to determine your hearing ability.
Hearing Loss – Treatment
Treatment depends of the type and degree of hearing loss. In some cases it may be as easy as removing ear wax blocking the ear canal, or treating an infection. Most other cases can be effectively treated with hearing aids that amplify sound. Your physician and audiologist will let you know if this is the case
In some cases of hearing loss there may be a problem with the middle ear or eardrum. A variety of surgical options may be offered in these cases. Repair of a hole in the eardrum or connecting broken hearing bones are examples of such surgeries.
In cases of far advanced hearing loss, hearing aids may no longer work. A cochlear implant may help in such cases. A cochlear implant is a surgically placed device placed in the cochlea that sends the auditory signal directly to the hearing nerve that supplies the brain with hearing information.
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