Hearing loss can vary from mild to total loss of hearing and occur in one or both ears. It can be caused by many different factors, some of which can be successfully treated with medicine or surgery, depending on the disease. Hearing loss usually comes on gradually but may occasionally develop suddenly.

Overview and Symptoms

Common experiences where you begin to notice changes in your hearing include:

  • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
  • Difficulty understanding speech when there is a noisy background
  • Difficulty following a conversation when two or more people are talking at once
  • Misunderstanding what other people are saying
  • Misunderstanding words that sound similar
  • Asking people to repeat what they said
  • Difficulty understanding the speech of women and children, which is higher pitched
  • You have the TV or radio volume too high
  • Withdrawing from conversations because you have trouble hearing

Causes of hearing loss may include:

  • Malformation of outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear structures
  • Fluid in the middle ear from colds
  • Ear infection
  • Allergies
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Impacted earwax
  • Foreign body in the ear
  • Otosclerosis
  • Hereditary
  • Aging
  • Tumors, disease
  • Trauma to the head

Depending on the type of hearing loss you have, your doctor may order specific tests. As part of your diagnosis, your doctor may try to determine the following:

  • Location of the problem
  • Degree of loss
  • Cause 


The goal of treating hearing loss is to improve hearing as much as possible. The kinds of treatment used depend on the type of hearing loss and the underlying cause.

Conductive hearing loss, when hearing loss is due to problems with the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear and its little bones, can often be corrected by medical or surgical treatment. Most types of sensorineural hearing loss, when hearing loss is due to problems or injuries of the inner ear, are permanent and cannot be corrected medically or surgically, but hearing can be improved with hearing aids and assistive devices.

Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

We provide a range of comprehensive services, including state-of-the-art evaluation, advanced, multidisciplinary treatment, and follow-up care for patients with ear, nose, throat disorders; voice and swallowing disorders; and cancers and non-malignant conditions of the head and neck.

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