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Answers to Your Questions About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can affect any person at any age. Our hearing care specialists know how to diagnose hearing problems and help patients find the best solutions for relief. Read our collection of answers to the questions we hear most often.
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  • How does diabetes cause hearing loss in some patients?

    Medical science hasn’t yet discovered the exact reason why diabetes can cause an increased chance of hearing loss. Some doctors have hypothesized that high glucose levels in the blood that are associated with diabetes can damage to the small blood vessels in the ear, much like the way in which diabetes has been known to cause trouble in a patient’s kidneys and eyes.

    However, others believe that hearing loss may be caused by the nerve damage that leads to peripheral neuropathy in diabetes sufferers. Diabetes may cause changes in the sensory neurons or fibers of the auditory nerve, making it more difficult for patients to perceive or understand sounds. Regardless of the exact cause, there is definitive evidence that diabetes patients are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than those with normal blood glucose levels.

    The Overlap in Patients With Diabetes and Hearing Loss

    According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, while nearly 35 million are suffering from some degree of hearing loss. It appears that many people are suffering from both conditions—and it’s probably not a coincidence. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found some interesting factors when researcher examined diabetes patients for signs of hearing problems:

    • Hearing loss is twice as common in diabetes patients as it is in people who have no diabetic symptoms.
    • Diabetes-related hearing loss was significantly worse in women, especially for patients whose diabetes was not under control.
    • Patients with pre-diabetes had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss than patients with normal glucose levels. Pre-diabetes, a condition where glucose levels are elevated but not considered diabetic, affects roughly 86 million adults in the U.S. and often leads to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and possibly strokes.


    If you are experiencing the early signs of hearing loss, our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can get you started on the road to recovery. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our office nearest you and get the treatment you need today!

  • What is ototoxic hearing loss?

    When medications can cause hearing loss or dysfunction of the inner ear, they are called ototoxic, meaning poisonous to the ear. Some of these drugs will affect the cochlea or hearing nerve, resulting in deafness, while others affect the vestibular center of the brain, causing nausea and balance problems. In many cases, ototoxic drugs can have negative effects on both hearing and balance, and can cause the patient to suffer these side effects even if he or she stops taking the medication.

    Four Medications That Can Cause Hearing Loss and Balance Problems

    While some drugs may cause hearing changes, ototoxicity will vary depending on the size of the dose, how long a person has been taking the medication, kidney function, and whether the patient has taken more than one drug that can cause hearing damage. The following medications have ototoxic properties:

    • Antibiotics. Strong antibiotics, including streptomycin, gentamicin, tobramycin, and vancomycin, can cause problems hearing as well as balance impairment. One of the most ototoxic of these drugs is neomycin, which can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss if it is used during surgery to sterilize open wounds.
       
    • Chemotherapy drugs. Patients who receive chemotherapy treatments that contain platinum (such as cisplatin) are at high risk for both tinnitus and hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur anywhere between the first infusion and the completion of treatment, and is often severe and irreversible.
       
    • Diuretics. Some classes of diuretics, commonly called water pills, have ototoxic properties. These drugs include Lasix (furosemide) and Demadex (torsemide), and can cause ringing in the ears or hearing loss that usually goes away when the medication is discontinued.
       
    • Aspirin. High doses of aspirin (salicylate) or aspirin-containing drugs have been known to cause temporary hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms in patients.


    These drugs are often used in life-and-death situations, so it is vital that you discuss any symptoms with your doctor before discontinuing any medications. If you have been struggling through symptoms of hearing loss, our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists will be happy to provide a painless hearing exam to diagnose your condition and start treatment as soon as possible. Call the number on this page to make an appointment at our location nearest you!

  • What causes hearing loss?

    Hearing impairments can have a number of different causes, from health conditions to the natural aging process. Depending on the cause, a hearing problem can be temporary or permanent, can come on suddenly or progress slowly over time.

    The most common causes of hearing loss include:

    • Ear infections. The most common cause of hearing loss in children is an infection in the ear canal, which causes inflammation and fluid buildup behind the eardrum. In most cases, hearing loss from an ear infection is only temporary.
       
    • Blockages. Anything that blocks the ear canal has the potential to affect hearing ability. Excessive earwax, tumors inside the ear, and foreign objects can all prevent the proper transmission of sound to the brain.
       
    • Heredity. Genetics can play a role in the development of hearing disorders, such as birth defects, malformations in the ear structures, and inherited conditions that cause sensory impairment.
       
    • Trauma. An injury to the head or neck may affect the brain’s ability to process the sounds it receives, while trauma to the inner ear or eardrum can prevent the cochlea from receiving sounds at all.
       
    • Noise exposure. Exposure to loud noise is a major cause of sudden and early hearing loss, as well as causing tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Even constant exposure to low-level noises can gradually cause a loss of hearing ability.
       
    • Medical conditions. Some chronic illnesses and diseases can result in hearing changes, as well as prescription medications taken to treat other conditions.
       
    • Aging. Most hearing loss is a result of a breakdown in the structures of the inner ear, a natural result of the body as it ages.
       

    Let Our Specialists Determine the Cause of Your Hearing Loss

    Proper diagnosis of your hearing condition is key to getting proper corrective treatment. Our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can perform simple testing procedures and listen to your concerns about your hearing, getting you the treatment you need to live your life to the fullest. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our office nearest you!