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Hearing Impairment

Hearing Impairment: Introduction

Hearing impairment is a general term for an abnormal condition in which a person experiences a deterioration or loss of hearing. Hearing impairment can also include muffled hearing and distorted hearing. Hearing impairment, also called hearing loss is a symptom or result of a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions.

The ear includes three areas: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Sound waves travel through the outer ear, into the middle ear where they cause vibration of the tympanic membrane. These vibrations are then transmitted through the auditory bones and into the cochlea of the inner ear. In the inner ear, sound vibrations are converted into electrical impulses and carried by the 8th cranial nerve to the brain.

Hearing impairment can result from a conductive problem in the outer or middle ear. Hearing impairment from this problem occurs when sound waves do not reach the inner ear. This type of hearing impairment is called conductive hearing loss and can be the result of ear infections, cholesteatoma, otosclerosis, earwax blockage, ear tumors, barotrauma and ruptured eardrum.

Hearing impairment can also result from a problem with the 8th cranial nerve. This is called sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing impairment occurs when the acoustic nerve is injured or damaged and is unable to conduct sound impulses from the ear to the brain. Hearing impairment due to sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by loud noise, nerve deafness, Meniere's disease, labyrinthitis and viral infections.

Hearing impairment often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, such as dizziness, vertigo and ear pain. These symptoms, as well as complications, vary depending on the underlying cause of hearing impairment. Complications can include deafness and depression. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of hearing impairment.

Diagnosing hearing impairment and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical and ear examination. The ear is examined with a lighted instrument called an otoscope.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of hearing tests (audiometry tests). A person with hearing impairment may need to consult with ear specialists, such as an audiologist or otologist, in order to get a full examination, testing and diagnosis of hearing impairment and its cause.

A diagnosis of hearing impairment and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because hearing impairment may be mild, progress very slowly and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of hearing impairment.

Treatment of hearing impairment varies depending on the disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Treatment includes addressing the underlying cause and may include hearing aids and other hearing devices. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of hearing impairment. ...more »

Hearing Impairment: Reduced ability to hear sounds. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Hearing Impairment is available below.

Hearing Impairment: Symptoms

The sensation of hearing impairment can be experienced and described in many ways. These include hearing loss, muffled hearing, distorted hearing and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Hearing impairment can occur slowly and gradually or suddenly.

Symptoms that accompany hearing impairment vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or ...more symptoms »

Hearing Impairment: Treatments

Treatment plans for hearing impairment are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the age and medical history of the patient and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the underlying cause of hearing impairment and improves hearing.

Treatment of hearing impairment begins with prevention. This includes ...more treatments »

Hearing Impairment: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing hearing impairment and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, it may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. Some people, especially the elderly, may be unaware of a gradual loss, change or impairment in hearing. In addition, some people may not seek medical care for a hearing impairment because they believe ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Hearing Impairment

Treatments for Hearing Impairment

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Hearing Impairment:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Hearing Impairment?

Hearing Impairment: Related Patient Stories

Hearing Impairment: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Hearing Impairment.

Types of Hearing Impairment

Hearing Impairment: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Hearing Impairment:

Causes of Hearing Impairment

Read more about causes of Hearing Impairment.

More information about causes of Hearing Impairment:

Disease Topics Related To Hearing Impairment

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Hearing Impairment:

Hearing Impairment: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Hearing Impairment

Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease is often over-diagnosed. Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness...read more »

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Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease...read more »

Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's. The disease Fragile X disorder can show only mild...read more »

Hearing Impairment: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Hearing Impairment

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Hearing Impairment:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Hearing Impairment, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Hearing Impairment: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Hearing Impairment

Medical research articles related to Hearing Impairment include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Research about Hearing Impairment

Visit our research pages for current research about Hearing Impairment treatments.

Clinical Trials for Hearing Impairment

The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Hearing Impairment include:

Statistics for Hearing Impairment

Hearing Impairment: Broader Related Topics

Hearing Impairment Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Hearing Impairment, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Hearing Impairment:

Lack or significant deficiency of the sense of hearing. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Impairment of the sense of hearing - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

 

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