Hearing Loss & Evaluations

Is It Time for a Hearing Test?

Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, to respond to warnings, and to hear doorbells and alarms. It can also make it hard to enjoy talking with friends and family. All of this can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous.

Do others complain the TV is too loud?

Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy room?

Do you have more trouble hearing women than men?

Do you ask others to repeat themselves?

Do you avoid going out because you’ll struggle to hear?

Do you notice any ringing or buzzing sounds in either ear?

How We Hear

There are three sections of the ear: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each section helps move sound through the process of hearing. When a sound occurs, the outer ear feeds it through the ear canal to the eardrum. The noise causes the eardrum to vibrate. This, in turn, causes three little bones inside the middle ear (malleus, incus, stapes) to move. That movement travels into the inner ear (cochlea), where it makes tiny little hairs move in a fluid. These hairs convert the movement to auditory signals, which are then transmitted to the brain to register the sound.

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Diagnostic Audiological Hearing Testing

To determine the nature and extent of the hearing impairment.

Industrial Hearing Assessment

For OSHA compliance for employees exposed to excessive noise levels in the workplace.

Pediatric Testing

Diagnostic assessments of newborns and general pediatric hearing assessment.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss occurs when sound is blocked in any of the three areas of the ear. The most common cause of hearing loss and one of the most preventable is exposure to loud noises. Infections, both of the ear or elsewhere in the body, are also a major contributor to hearing loss.

In the Outer Ear

Cerumen occlusion, infections that cause swelling, a growth in the ear canal, injury or birth defects can restrict hearing in the outer ear.

In the Middle Ear

Fluid build-up is responsible for the most common infections and blockages in the middle ear. Fluid in the middle ear prevents the bones from transmitting sounds properly. Tumors, both benign and malignant, can also result in hearing loss in the middle ear.

In the Inner Ear

The natural process of aging diminishes hearing from damage to the cochlea (mechanism for converting sound vibrations to brain signals), vestibular labyrinth (which regulates balance), or the acoustic nerve (nerve that sends sound signals to the brain). Additionally, inner ear infections, Meniere’s disease and other nerve-related problems contribute to hearing loss in the inner ear.

Other Causes of Hearing Loss

Presbycusis: Age-related hearing loss, such as having difficulty hearing in noisy places, having trouble understanding what people are saying or not registering softer sounds.

Heredity and Genetic Causes: There is a wide variety of diseases and syndromes that are either genetic or hereditary that can cause hearing loss. Some, like rubella (German measles) occur when a pregnant mother has the disease, which causes hearing loss in the baby. Other, rarer types of hereditary and genetic causes include CHARGE Syndrome, Connexin 26 disorder, Goldenhar Syndrome,Treacher Collins Syndrome, Usher Syndrome, Waardenburg Syndrome and otosclerosis (growth of spongy bone tissue in the middle ear).

Most causes of outer ear hearing loss can be remedied. But problems of the middle and inner ear can lead to permanent hearing loss, which is why it is important to seek medical attention quickly if you are experiencing a problem hearing.

Hearing Loss Treatment

Hearing loss is measured in four degrees: mild, moderate, severe or profound. The degree of hearing loss drives the selection of the best form of treatment on a case-by-case basis.

The location, type and degree of hearing loss impact the choice of treatments for any hearing problem. The most common treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics, decongestants and pain medication to overcome ear infections.
  • Myringotomy, a piercing of the eardrum to allow for fluids to drain out of the outer ear.
  • Hearing aids.
  • Surgery to remove benign or malignant tumors or correct bone- or nerve-related problems.

If you experience sudden or prolonged hearing loss with dizziness, fever or pain, please contact our office right away and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists. We’ll conduct a physical examination as well as a hearing test to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. We’ll then recommend the best treatment.

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss
Caused by conditions that block the transmission of sound through the outer ear and eardrum to the middle ear.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Inner ear damage that occurs as part of the natural process of aging.
Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss refers to people who have both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Some people experience more than one type of hearing loss.

Central Hearing Loss
This occurs when the central nervous system fails to send a readable signal to the brain, which is called a central auditory processing disorder. People with central hearing loss generally can hear all sounds, but can’t separate or process them.

Get in Touch

Ask a question or schedule an appointment below.

(434) 200-8753

 

2319 Atherholt Road Lynchburg, VA 24501

 

info@blueridgeentps.com