Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is being partly or totally unable to hear sound in one or both ears.

Symptoms of hearing loss may include:
  • Certain sounds seem too loud
  • Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy areas
  • Hard to tell high-pitched sounds (such as "s" or "th") from one another
  • Less trouble hearing men's voices than women's voices
  • Problems hearing when there is background noise
  • Voices that sound mumbled or slurred
Other symptoms include:
  • Feeling of being off-balance or dizzy (more common with Meniere's disease and acoustic neuroma)
  • Pressure in the ear (in fluid behind the eardrum)
  • Ringing or buzzing sound in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Causes

    Conductive hearing loss (CHL) occurs because of a mechanical problem in the outer or middle ear.

  • The three tiny bones of the ear (ossicles) may not conduct sound properly.
  • Or, the eardrum may not vibrate in response to sound.
  • Birth defects that cause changes in the ear structures
  • Genetic conditions (more than 400 are known)
  • Infections the mother passes to her baby in the womb (such as toxoplasmosis, rubella, or herpes)
  • The ear can also be injured by:
    • Pressure differences between the inside and outside of the eardrum, often from scuba diving
    • Skull fractures (can damage the structures or nerves of the ear)
    • Trauma from explosions, fireworks, gunfire, rock concerts, and earphones