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|The Anatomy of the Ear|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by something interfering with the sound passing to the inner ear
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to:
- The cochlea—the major organ in the ear responsible for hearing
- The 8th cranial nerve—the major nerve pathway and/or area of the brain responsible for hearing
- Impacted ear wax
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Ear infections
- Perforation of ear drum
- Changes the bone structure of the ear, a condition called otosclerosis
- Congenital anomaly causing complete closure of the ear canal
- Otosclerosis affecting the inner ear
- Vascular disease that affects blood flow to the ear
- Previous brain, ear surgery, or viral infection causing damage to the inner ear
- Increasing age
- Family history
- Exposure to excess noise
- Exposure to medications, such as antibiotics, diuretics, or heart medications:
- Having certain health conditions, such as
- Not receiving all recommended immunizations
- Higher pitched sounds
- Lower pitched sounds
- All sounds
- Speech when there is background noise
- Ringing sounds in the ears
- Problems with balance
- In children, hearing loss may cause difficulty learning to speak.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
- Ear pain
- Ringing or other sounds in your ear
- Problems with speech or balance
- Sensitivity to sound
- Weber test or Rinne test—To can help distinguish conductive from sensorineural hearing loss.
- Audiometric tests —A direct test of hearing.
- Tympanometry—This test measures the pressure in the middle ear and examines the middle ear's response to pressure waves.
- CT scan or MRI —This may be done to check for a tumor or bone injury.
- Brain stem auditory evoked responses—Measures the electrical response of the brain to sound to test hearing
- Electrocochleography—This tests the function of the cochlea and the auditory nerve.
- Earwax removal
- Changing or stopping medications that affect your hearing
- Modifying any dietary deficiencies
- Hearing aids
- Assisted listening devices that enhance the abilities of your hearing aid or cochlear implant to make sounds clearer and easier to hear
- Face the person that you are talking to. This will allow you to see their facial expressions and watch their lips move.
- Ask other people to speak loudly and more clearly.
- Turn off background noise, such as the TV or radio.
- In public places, choose a place to sit that is away from noise.
- Work with a special trainer to learn how to lip read. Lip reading involves paying close attention to how a person’s mouth and body are moving when they talk.
- If you smoke, talk with your doctor about the best ways to quit .
- Adequately treat ear infections.
- Get all appropriate immunizations.
- Treat all medical conditions as directed by your doctor.
- Avoid exposure to excess noise.
- Use adequate ear protection when using noisy equipment.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org
American Tinnitus Association http://www.ata.org
The Canadian Hearing Society http://www.chs.ca
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology http://www.entcanada.org
Hansen MC. Otosclerosis and sensorineural hearing loss. A clinical study. Archives of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 1983;109(9).
Hearing loss prevention. Better Hearing Institute website. Available at: http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing%5Floss%5Fprevention/index.cfm . Accessed September 20, 2013.
Lee SH, Chang Y, Lee JE, Cho JH. The values of diffusion tensor imaging and functional MRI in evaluating profound sensorineural hearing loss. Cochlear Implants International. 2004;149-152.
Living with hearing loss. Hearing Loss Association of America website. Available at: http://www.hearingloss.org/content/living-hearing-loss . Accessed September 20, 2013.
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Durga J, Verhoef P, Anteunis L, Schouten E, Kok F. Effects of folic acid supplementation on hearing in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Int Med. 2007;146(1):1-9.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013