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30 Apr, 24 BY RONEN NAZARIAN

Hearing loss

Restoring Hearing: Our Commitment

The loss of hearing can be life-altering. Socially and professionally, patients note significant changes in how they interact with the world and how others treat them. At Osborne Head and Neck Institute’s Division of Otology and Restorative Hearing Surgery, we understand how important hearing is to your feeling of connection with the world. We utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic modalities to treat hearing loss and restore hearing.

How do I know if I have hearing loss?

Because hearing loss usually occurs gradually, early symptoms are often subtle. These may include:

  • Needing to raise the volume on the television
  • Difficulty hearing at parties or restaurants
  • Difficulty understanding children or women
  • Asking others to repeat themselves

Most patients are able to ignore these symptoms. It is usually at the urging of a loved one who is affected by these behaviors that patients seek care.

A common side effect of hearing loss, particularly as it advances, is ringing in the ear, referred to as tinnitus. This symptom is another common patient complaint, and hearing loss is often found during evaluation.

What are common causes of hearing loss?

  • Wax blockage
  • Aging
  • Loud noise exposure (acute or chronic)
  • Infection
  • Surfer’s ear (exostosis)
  • Ear drum perforation
  • Cholesteatoma

There are many other causes of hearing loss, including illness and medications. An otologist can determine the cause of your hearing loss, which results in optimal treatment.

Who should I see if I suspect to have hearing loss?

An otologist is an otolaryngologist (ENT) physician who specializes in the care of the ear and treatment of ear disorders. This specialist is most capable of determine the cause of your hearing loss and providing you with the most advanced treatment options.

It is important to seek early evaluation and treatment. Some types of hearing loss can be reversed with timely treatment. There are many options besides hearing aids that may facilitate a return to hearing. Evaluation is critical to identify which options are available to you.

What tests are needed to diagnose my hearing loss?

An otologist will often order a basic hearing test, which includes an audiogram and tympanogram. The audiogram tests your hearing at different frequencies and determines the lowest volume at which you can hear the tone in each frequency. The audiogram will also generate a score that shows how well you can discriminate different similar-sounding words.

The tympanogram is a measurement of the movement of your ear drum. This test is necessary to know if there is a problem with your ear drum mobility.

Depending on the results of these basic tests, the doctor may decide to order more specific tests such as acoustic reflex testing,  Auditory Brainstem Monitoring (ABR), otoacoustic Emissions (OAE), electrocochleography (ECOG), and vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP).

What are some treatment options for my hearing loss?

The treatment of hearing loss does not always require the use of a hearing aid. In cases of mechanical obstruction, an otologist can fix a hearing issue by simply cleaning the ear. Infections are similarly easily treated, as is fluid in the middle ear. There are now minimally invasive techniques such as injections, small implants, and reconstructive techniques that can help selected patients with hearing loss. Evaluation is required to determine the cause of your hearing loss and the treatment that is most appropriate.

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