Sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency. A person experiencing sudden hearing loss must be seen as quickly as possible by an ENT physician. The best possibility of improvement occurs after an immediate diagnosis and initiation of treatment. If no visible obstruction or infection is visible, a hearing test will determine the type and amount of hearing loss. The ENT physician may wish to prescribe medication and/ or imaging of the inner ears.
Hearing loss is a widespread condition that affects approximately 35 million Americans. It is commonly associated with aging – 1 out of 3 people aged 65 experiences some degree of natural hearing loss – but can occur in persons of all ages, and is often exacerbated by environmental factors such as noise exposure.
Defining Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is, simply put, a decreased sensitivity to sounds. Speech may sound muffled or difficult to understand, and you may find yourself asking others to speak more clearly or repeat what they are saying. You’ll find the TV or radio volume is too low, and may find yourself withdrawing from conversations and avoiding social situations.
Hearing loss can occur as the result of natural aging, hereditary factors, and exposure to occupational and recreational noises. It is sometimes a side effect of certain medications or illnesses.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is characterized according to which part of the auditory system is affected. There are three main types.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound reaches the inner ear at a reduced volume. Causes include ear infections, fluid in the middle ear from colds and allergies, impacted earwax, foreign object in the ear, perforated eardrum, benign tumor, or an abnormality or defect in the middle or outer ear. Medication or surgery can often successfully be used to treat the underlying condition and restore hearing.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the nerves to the inner ear or brain are damaged. Speech will sound faint or muffled, regardless of the volume or clarity of the person speaking. Causes include exposure to loud noise, head trauma, viruses or diseases, genetics, aging, inner ear abnormalities, tumors, and Meniere’s disease. This type of hearing loss – the most common – is rarely treatable with medication or surgery, but patients usually benefit from hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both types, and occurs when there is damage to the inner, middle, and outer ear.
Why choose Dr. Becker
- Dr. Daniel G. Becker, Founder and Medical Director of The Becker ENT Center, is a highly trained, board-certified specialist.
- Dr. Becker graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1986 and was awarded a full merit scholarship to attend the University of Virginia Medical School. In addition to Medical School and Residency training at the University of Virginia, and board certification.
- Dr. Becker completed an additional one-year fellowship. His fellowship was a prestigious Nasal and Facial Plastic Surgery Fellowship with Dr. M. Eugene Tardy and Dr. Dean Toriumi, two world-renowned surgeons.
Very friendly & thorough first visit. Treatment plan explained and looking forward to next visit.
Phenomenal doctor. Friendly, calming, and very attentive. He gave me plenty of time to ask questions and his personal anecdotes make him additionally trustworthy, funny, and honest. I can only speak to my experience consulting with him rather than performing a procedure, but I’d trust him 100%.
Dr. Mignone is very personable and completely professional. He saw me in a timely matter, listened to my concerns, thouroughly examined me, explained my problem and treated me appropriately. I would highly recommend him, without reservation.
Dr. Gregory is very thorough. She listens to my questions and concerns, answering them completely. Excellent bedside manner.
I appreciated that Dr. Lupa took the time to listen to my concerns and respond thoughtfully to my questions. He has a reassuring and respectful manner.
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Treatment for Hearing Loss
Regardless of the type of hearing loss you are experiencing, treatment options are available. Medications can be used for conditions such as ear infections, while a doctor can remove impacted earwax. Some conditions, especially when trauma or congenital factors are involved, can be corrected surgically. There are a wide variety of hearing aids available with many different features for a diverse range of lifestyles, all designed to amplify sounds and make it easier to hear. Severe hearing loss often responds to cochlear implants that direct sound to the auditory nerve.