Have you experienced muffled hearing? You might be happy to know that this can be a treatable condition. Anyone can be affected by any of three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and a combination of the two. Conductive hearing loss (CHL) consists of sound meeting the inner ear at a muffled volume. It is not always easy to determine whether or not a hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural, so a hearing test (audiogram) is often the first step in evaluation. A hearing test will help identify the type of hearing loss as well as how severe and at what frequencies the hearing loss is occurring. There are a variety of causes for CHL, some of which include earwax, ear infections, fluid buildup in the ear, or a ruptured eardrum. For each of these problems, a treatment option is available and a visit to an ear, nose, and throat doctor can help determine the best approach for your situation.
Fluid & Ear Infections
Ear infections are particularly common in children, but can also appear in adults as a result of sinus infections, allergies, or even tobacco smoke. Often, ear infections can be treated with antibiotic medications as prescribed by a doctor. Some possible risk factors for ear infections in children and adults include daycare attendance, a change in altitude, recent illness, and cold weather. Addressing risk factors or causes, such as a sinus infection, early on can help avoid ear infections before they start. Adults with persistent ear infections should be fully evaluated by an otolaryngologist to rule out any masses or lesions blocking the structures (Eustachian tube) which equalize pressure in the air space behind the eardrum.
Glands located in the ear canal make earwax. Everyone produces earwax and normally it is not noticeable. Earwax is actually helpful in protecting the eardrum. Once in a while, earwax, also known as cerumen, can become a problem by building up in the ear and causing blockage. This can be caused by using Q-tips in an attempt to clean the ear. The insertion of anything into the ear is not recommended, because although you may remove the outermost earwax, you will also likely push the deeper earwax further into the ear. An excessive amount of cerumen in the ears can contribute to muffled hearing. Great care should be taken when removing any object from the ear; therefore, the surest way to find a solution is to visit a specialist, such as an otolaryngologist. These doctors can carefully remove the wax buildup for you using special tools. To prevent earwax blockage in general, try avoiding using cotton swabs to clean your ears.
Ruptured (punctured or perforated) eardrums can occur by placing foreign objects in the ear (such as cotton swabs), loud sounds, rapid pressure changes, and the aforementioned ear infections. They involve a hole or tear in the eardrum. If you are experiencing any trouble hearing or ear pain, it is best to seek medical advice. When you visit an otolaryngologist in Lawrenceville, they will recommend the appropriate treatment for you. Sometimes a ruptured eardrum will heal on its own; even so, your ear doctor will likely want to keep an eye on it. Other times, the doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics or other measures to help heal and protect your eardrum.
The causes of conductive hearing loss are numerous, ranging from environmental factors to basic human biology. Perhaps you can’t hear the TV as well or you lose track of a conversation, asking friends to repeat themselves or speak a little louder. If you are experiencing hearing loss, an experienced ear, nose, and throat doctor may be able to help pinpoint the cause and guide you through appropriate treatment options.