Hearing tests are generally used to diagnose a patient’s degree and type of hearing loss. However, these screenings can also provide valuable information about a person’s health, including identifying the underlying causes of hearing difficulties. If your hearing loss is due to a serious medical condition, a hearing care professional can spot the symptoms in an exam, allowing you to start treatment as quickly as possible.
Conditions That May Be Identified Through Hearing Screenings
Your hearing care provider should be concerned with all aspects of your hearing health, beginning with proper diagnosis and treatment of your hearing loss. As part of your exam, your hearing professional should look into your ears to determine if there could be a blockage that prevents sound transmission (common in patients who can hear in one ear only). This can also identify any tumors inside the ear canal, allowing the patient to undergo surgical removal.
If your ears appear normal, your hearing specialist can perform many different diagnostic tests to determine if a condition other than aging could be related to your hearing loss, such as:
- Tinnitus. While tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, it is often a symptom that goes hand-in-hand with hearing degradation. As the hair cells in the inner ear age, they become less likely to carry electrical signals to the auditory nerve in the brain. This can make it less likely for patients to hear sounds, while at the same time make the patient “hear” sounds that are not there—such as a ringing, buzzing, or whooshing noise. Many different factors can make tinnitus worse, so a thorough evaluation of your condition is necessary to find the right therapy option to ease head noise.
- Vertigo. Patients may experience hearing loss in combination with dizziness or nausea. These symptoms are controlled by the fluid levels inside a person’s ear, and if the fluids are not balanced, a patient can feel as if his or her environment is spinning. Balance disorders can often be treated with medications, helping a person maintain balance and overcome persistent motion sickness.
- Meniere’s disease. Patients with severe vertigo may be suffering from Meniere’s disease, a condition that often causes tinnitus and hearing loss as well as balance problems. There is currently no cure for the condition, but medications, steroid injections, and surgery can all be used in treatment.
- Cardiovascular problems. The structures of the ear need continuous blood flow to work properly. Blood clots, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and other heart and circulation problems can interfere with how sounds are perceived, as well as risk the health of the patient.
- Chronic disease. Many different health conditions, including diabetes, chronic ear infections, and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause hearing loss. In these cases, controlling the underlying condition can relieve the symptoms of hearing loss.
- Otosclerosis. Bone conduction is essential for normal hearing. Patients who are suffering a hardening of the bones in the middle ear (otosclerosis) are often unable to hear because the conduction of sound is interrupted before it reaches the auditory nerve. Otosclerosis is often treated with surgery.
- Paget’s disease. Paget’s disease is another bone disorder that can cause hearing loss, but often has more complications than otosclerosis. Symptoms of hearing loss, severe headaches, bone and joint pain, and curvature of the spine often begin later in life, and hearing aids are often required to reverse hearing loss symptoms.
A whole-body approach to hearing health provides our patients with the most effective way to treat and overcome their conditions. Some patients may benefit from hearing aids to painlessly correct their hearing loss, while others may benefit from medications and surgical procedures. Our hearing care providers always look for the best possible solution for each of our patients’ conditions, helping them hear their best at every future appointment.
Whether your hearing problem is due to natural hearing loss or an underlying medical problem, one thing is certain: the earlier your hearing is tested, the sooner you can get relief. Our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can get you started on the road to hearing restoration! Click here to make an appointment for a free hearing screening, or call the number on this page today to make an appointment with our office nearest you.