Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is a medical emergency defined as an individual experiencing at least 30 dB of sensorineural hearing loss occurring over 3 days or less. It typically occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways to the brain.
SSNHL are associated with head trauma (such as a car accident), acoustic trauma (exposure to loud noises), viral infections, tumors, decreased circulation to the inner ear, membrane breaks, or exposure to ototoxic medications. Also, it is not uncommon for it to occur for an unknown reason (idiopathic).
Treatment is managed by an otolaryngologist in conjunction with the audiologist in order to achieve maximum recovery of hearing. Pharmacological treatment can include steroids or antiviral medications when diagnosed close to the onset of symptoms. Learn more about Sensorineural Hearing Loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss refers to a disruption of sound transmitted through the eardrum and into the middle ear. Frequently, conductive disorders are temporary and can be corrected with medical intervention.
Our audiologists engage the patient to obtain a relevant case history and then perform a comprehensive test battery. This helps to identify the appropriate intervention necessary for the patient’s needs.
Mixed Hearing Loss
This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and affects both the inner ear and middle or outer ear. Treatment options depend on the exact cause and may include a combination of medications, surgery and hearing aids.
Unilateral Hearing Loss
Unilateral hearing loss (sometimes referred to as single-sided deafness) affects one ear only, while bilateral hearing loss affects both ears. Patients with unilateral hearing loss have normal hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other; they have difficulty hearing on one side and localizing sound. Learn more about Unilateral Hearing Loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Exposure to loud noises can damage the hair cells of the inner ear, resulting in high-frequency hearing loss and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears or head). The duration and amount of exposure determines the degree of damage to hearing and whether or not it is permanent. Cumulative noise exposure usually results in permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, but a one-time exposure can also be damaging. More than ever before, noise-induced hearing loss is prevalent in younger individuals even though it is preventable.
Protective devices, such as earplugs, ear muffs, or musician plugs are invaluable in preventing hearing loss. Routine monitoring of hearing thresholds is recommended as a safeguard to address this concern. Learn more about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.
Congenital Hearing Loss
Congenital hearing loss refers to hearing loss that is present at birth. Objective hearing testing is available to test babies literally hours old. Early identification of hearing loss minimizes the long term effects of hearing impairment. The two most common tests that are performed on infants are: Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). OAE testing looks at a child’s hearing by placing a small probe microphone into the ear. Frequency specific sounds are presented and generate an “echo” back of those sounds. The test measures those echos to determine the integrity of the outer hair cells of the inner ear. The ABR measures the brain’s ability to perceive sound. Small electrodes are placed on a child’s head and ears which measures the brain’s response to sound. Children are given a screening version of one of these tests before being discharged from the hospital. Learn more about Congenital Hearing Loss.