|Anatomy of the Ear|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
- 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 earwax
- Recurrent or poorly treated ear infections
- Perforated eardrum
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Inner ear disorders, such as Meniere’s disease or labyrinthitis
- Changes the bone structure of the ear—otosclerosis
- Birth defects affecting the structure of the ear
- Family history or certain genetic disorders
- Occupational or environmental exposure to excessive noise
- Cardiovascular diseases that affect blood flow to the ear and brain
- Certain medications, such as loop diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or antibiotics
- History of infections, such as mycoplasma or meningitis
- Previous brain or ear surgery
- Neurological disorders, such as migraine headaches or multiple sclerosis
- Autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or Cogan syndrome (rare)
- Not receiving all recommended immunizations
- Higher pitched sounds
- Lower pitched sounds
- All sounds
- Speech when there is background noise
- The sensation of spinning when standing still—vertigo
- Ringing or other sounds in the ears—tinnitus
- Problems with balance
- In children, hearing loss may cause difficulty learning to speak.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
- Ear pain
- Problems with speech or balance
- Sensitivity to sound
- Weber test or Rinne test—To 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
- Electrocochleography—This tests the function of the cochlea and the auditory nerve.
- Earwax removal
- 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
- Decrease inflammation and promote fluid drainage
- Suppress the effects of the immune system
- 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.
- Stapedectomy—The stapes bone is removed or drilled, and replaced with a prosthetic.
- Tympanoplasty—Repair of a ruptured eardrum or the correction of a defect of the middle ear bones.
- Myringotomy—Incision of the eardrum to allow entrapped fluid to drain. Tubes may be placed in the ear to promote continuous drainage.
- 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—Head and Neck Surgery 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/hearingpedia/hearing-loss-prevention. Accessed August 5, 2015.
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;5 Suppl 1:149-152.
Living with hearing loss. Hearing Loss Association of America website. Available at: http://www.hearingloss.org/content/living-hearing-loss. Accessed August 5, 2015.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 19, 2015. Accessed August 5, 2015.
2/1/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed : 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: 08/2015 -
- Update Date: 08/05/2015 -