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The NOWiHEAR Audiologist — Expert in Causes of Hearing Loss, Deafness, Balance Problems, Tinnitus/Ringing Ears

A variety of factors can cause hearing loss, deafness, balance problems, and tinnitus/ringing ears. Age, certain drugs, diseases, infections, and trauma can all affect hearing. Every NOWiHEAR Audiologist has extensive training in diagnosing and treating causes of hearing loss, and every NOWiHEAR Audiologist has provider credentials recognized throughout the medical community so that if the audiologist identifies a condition that requires medical treatment, the NOWiHEAR Audiologist can coordinate with physicians to ensure that the patient gets the necessary care. Causes of hearing loss, deafness, balance problems, and tinnitus/ringing ears include:

Presbycusis – Age-Related Hearing Loss

Presbycusis (pronounced "prezbuhKYOOsis") is the gradual loss of hearing that often accompanies aging. More common in men than women, perhaps because of greater exposure to environmental noise, presbycusis usually affects adults beginning in their fifties. Presbycusis occurs in approximately 35 percent of people aged 65 to 75 and 50 percent of people aged 75 and older. This loss of hearing is most often caused by age-related changes in the inner ear, specifically the tiny hair cells in the cochlea. Changes can also occur in the neural pathways that carry signals to the brain. Presbycusis affects hearing by diminishing the perceived clarity and volume of sounds, especially the speech of others. Conversations sound garbled, and it becomes difficult to hear and distinguish high-pitched sounds. Women's and children's higher-pitched voices are harder to understand than men's voices. Presbycusis is also a cause of tinnitus, or ringing ears.

The good news is that presbycusis can be effectively treated. Every NOWiHEAR Audiologist has extensive training in evaluating and providing treatment for the causes of hearing loss, including presbycusis. If necessary, the NOWiHEAR Audiologist can determine the most appropriate hearing aids to treat the hearing loss associated with presbycusis and expertly fit and adjust the selected instruments for optimal performance. If you or a loved one is experiencing age-related hearing loss, contact NOWiHEAR today to locate an experienced NOWiHEAR Audiologist in your area.

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Medications and Hearing Loss

More than 100 prescription and over-the-counter drugs have been identified as ototoxic, or damaging to the ear and hearing. Sometimes these drugs are necessary for treating a life-threatening illness and no other recourse is available. Other times, for various reasons, individuals take too much of a medication over a period of time. Among the drugs identified as causes of hearing loss/deafness are:

  • Certain drugs for pain relief have been associated with permanent hearing loss, especially when taken at high doses over a long period of time. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Strong antibiotics such as streptomycin and gentamycin are used to treat bacterial infections. These drugs can cause hearing loss (or deafness). These types of aminoglycoside drugs should be strictly monitored by a physician, and a baseline hearing test should be performed before and after any of these drugs are given.
  • Drugs used in chemotherapy, called cytotoxic drugs, destroy cells or prevent their growth to control cancer. Chemotherapy patients who experience tinnitus or difficulty hearing should let their physician know immediately.
  • "Water pills," or loop diuretics, are used to increase urine output for patients with certain heart problems. They can be ototoxic when administered in large doses (usually intravenously).
  • Aspirin and other salicylates, and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can cause temporary hearing loss when taken in high doses and are known be a cause of tinnitus (ringing ears).

Every NOWiHEAR Audiologist has full training in the pharmaceutical causes of deafness and hearing loss, and every thorough audiology hearing test and evaluation by a NOWiHEAR Audiologist includes an analysis of the medications the patient is currently taking or has taken in the past. By consulting a NOWiHEAR Audiologist, you are assured of receiving complete, full-spectrum care that takes into account all hearing-related factors that specifically relate to you.

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Disease-Related Hearing Loss

A NOWiHEAR Audiologist requests a full health history from every patient so that the impact of any disease on the patient's hearing can be fully evaluated. Mumps, measles, mononucleosis, influenza, meningitis, herpes, and syphilis can all be potentially identified as causes of hearing loss and deafness. An especially debilitating hearing-related affliction is Meniere's Disease. It is characterized by prolonged bouts of vertigo ("the world is spinning" dizziness), gradual and often fluctuating hearing loss, and ringing ears (tinnitus). Meniere's Disease is a cause of tinnitus that can be severe, but varies in intensity. Contact NOWiHEAR to find a hearing impairment specialist in your area who has been trained to recognize disease-related hearing loss and who will provide a complete hearing examination that will identify all possible causes of your hearing loss.

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Infection-Caused Hearing Loss

Young children aged six and under often experience a condition of the middle ear called otitis media. Because the eustachian tube, the tube that connects the middle ear and throat, is more horizontal and shorter in younger children, it is more prone to infection from microorganisms that enter the ear. Symptoms of otitis media include pain in the ear, buzzing or ringing ears, a full or plugged feeling and related hearing loss, fever, and sometimes discharge from the ear. If left untreated, chronic otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss and/or speech and language delays in children.

More common to adults is external otitis, or infection of the outer ear. Sometimes called swimmer's ear, it can be caused by bacteria, fungus, eczema or seborrhea, allergies, swimming or scuba diving, and chronic irritation from ear pulling or scratching (with a Q-tip, for example). Its symptoms include ear pain, itching, ringing ears (it is often identified as a cause of tinnitus), and, when the infection becomes more serious, fever, swelling, discharge, and diminishment of hearing. Otitis media and external otitis should be treated by a physician. The physician will likely prescribe ear drops and an antibiotic and caution the patient to keep the ear as dry as possible.

Your NOWiHEAR Audiologist is fully trained in recognizing the symptoms of otitis media and external otitis. Your NOWiHEAR Audiologist will work closely with your physician when an infection is diagnosed to ensure that you or your child receives the necessary medical care to prevent permanent hearing loss. Contact NOWiHEAR today to schedule an appointment with a credentialed NOWiHEAR Audiologist to identify the causes of your hearing loss or deafness.

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Hearing Loss Resulting from Trauma

Central Auditory Processing Testing

Trauma-related hearing loss can result from several causes, from loud sounds to a blow to the head. Acoustic trauma often occurs in individuals exposed to loud sound over a long period of time, such as heavy equipment operators or airport workers. However, hearing loss also can result when a sudden loud noise such as an explosion, airbag discharge, or gunshot damages structures in the ear. This type of hearing loss, which usually affects perception of high frequency sound, can be a cause of tinnitus (ringing ears) and may become progressively worse over time.

Those who suffer a head injury are particularly prone to hearing loss. Damage can occur to structures in the ear, the neural pathways that carry sound to the brain, and the hearing centers of the brain. Such trauma can be a cause of tinnitus, sudden hearing loss, progressive hearing loss, and can even be one of the causes of deafness.

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Tinnitus – Unpleasant Ringing Ears

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a high-pitched ringing or other sound in the ears that others cannot hear. Rather than being one of the causes of hearing loss, it most commonly occurs as the result of hearing loss. Presbycusis, medications, disease, and trauma have all been linked to ringing ears. The internal cause of tinnitus is thought to be damage to the cochlea, the snail-shaped bony structure of the inner ear responsible for hearing. The cochlea contains fine hairs that respond to sound stimulus and send signals to the brain. It is theorized that when these hairs or another portion of the cochlea becomes damaged, the brain compensates by creating its own noise—tinnitus. NOWiHEAR Audiologists have extensive training in the causes of tinnitus, and they can offer effective treatments for constantly ringing ears or refer as necessary.

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Balance Problems

Dizziness & Balance Testing

A balance problem causes a person to feel unsteady on the feet and to be prone to episodes of dizziness or vertigo. A person's balance is largely regulated by the inner-ear structure called the vestibular system. This intricate system works in concert with other sensory organs to maintain the body's position. Factors such as infection, head trauma, circulatory disorders, medications, and aging can all affect the vestibular system and cause a balance disorder. Symptoms often include a sensation of falling, dizziness, vertigo ("room spinning"), blurred vision, and disorientation.

Balance problems can also occur as the result of an acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumor that grows on the nerve that goes from the inner ear to the brain. Because it develops on or near the vestibular system, it can affect equilibrium as well as cause hearing loss.

The neurological effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause unsteadiness or loss of balance. This condition is most often seen in patients over 75 years old.

A NOWiHEAR Audiologist is fully trained in diagnosing the symptoms and causes of balance disorders and will work closely with physicians and other professionals to ensure that the problems are fully addressed. For some patients, the NOWiHEAR Audiologist can provide vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This treatment involves an individualized program of special exercises that help the patient reduce dizziness and improve balance.

Seeing a highly trained NOWiHEAR Audiologist provides assurance that balance problems will be correctly diagnosed and treated. If you or a loved is experiencing balance problems, contact NOWiHEAR today to find an audiologist in your area who can provide the expert care you need.

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Dizziness / Vertigo

Fall Prevention Tips

Dizziness (lightheadedness) and vertigo (a spinning sensation) are often related to inner ear disturbances. One of the most common causes of dizziness and vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is the intense feeling of dizziness and vertigo that accompanies a sudden change of head position. Causes of BPPV are thought to include infection, aging, head injury, and the development of calcium carbonate in the inner ear structures, a condition technically known as otoconia. The chance of experiencing BPPV increases with age. It is estimated that 50 percent of dizziness in older people is a result of BPPV. In fact, most elderly people who have problems with dizziness and vertigo have an otologic (ear-related) disturbance. Repositioning therapy can be used to treat BPPV, and some patients benefit from vestibular rehabilitation therapy, a regimen of individualized exercises designed to reduce dizziness and alleviate balance problems.

Other causes of dizziness and vertigo include Meniere's Disease and neurological disorders. A condition that most often affects young adults but may also occur in younger and older individuals is viral labyrinthitis. Often developing after a cold or a bout of the flu, viral labyrinthitis causes sudden and severe dizziness and vertigo, often resulting in nausea and vomiting. The condition is thought to be caused by a viral infection of the labyrinth, a structure of the inner ear's vestibular system. Viral labyrinthitis can be treated with drugs, but it usually disappears without treatment.

Every NOWiHEAR Audiologist has the training and expertise to recognize the causes of dizziness and vertigo. Your NOWiHEAR Audiologist also has provider credentials recognized throughout the medical community, and he or she will work closely with your physicians to ensure comprehensive treatment if you are experiencing vertigo and dizziness. For treatment of hearing impairment, balance disorders, and problems with dizziness and vertigo, the best choice for complete care is always a NOWiHEAR Audiologist.

Contact a NOWiHEAR Audiologist for Expert Treatment of Hearing and Balance Problems

The gift of hearing is too precious to trust to just anyone. When you contact a NOWiHEAR Audiologist, you are assured of seeing a highly educated and highly skilled professional who has extensive knowledge of the causes of hearing loss, deafness, balance problems, dizziness, and tinnitus/ringing ears, and whose primary mission is to give you the best care and most effective treatment possible. See www.aud-net.com for more information about the exceptional care offered by NOWiHEAR Audiologists.

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NOWiHEAR | 1000 East 146th Street Suite 121 Burnsville, MN 55337 | Phone: toll free 800-308-7290 | Fax: 952-953-3753