^ Fuente A, Qiu W, Zhang M, Xie H, Kardous CA, Campo P, Morata TC (March 2018). "Use of the kurtosis statistic in an evaluation of the effects of noise and solvent exposures on the hearing thresholds of workers: An exploratory study" (PDF). The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143 (3): 1704–1710. Bibcode:2018ASAJ..143.1704F. doi:10.1121/1.5028368. PMID 29604694.
Post-lingual deafness is hearing loss that is sustained after the acquisition of language, which can occur due to disease, trauma, or as a side-effect of a medicine. Typically, hearing loss is gradual and often detected by family and friends of affected individuals long before the patients themselves will acknowledge the disability.[41] Post-lingual deafness is far more common than pre-lingual deafness. Those who lose their hearing later in life, such as in late adolescence or adulthood, face their own challenges, living with the adaptations that allow them to live independently.
As of 2013 hearing loss affects about 1.1 billion people to some degree.[12] It causes disability in about 466 million people (5% of the global population), and moderate to severe disability in 124 million people.[2][13][14] Of those with moderate to severe disability 108 million live in low and middle income countries.[13] Of those with hearing loss, it began during childhood for 65 million.[15] Those who use sign language and are members of Deaf culture see themselves as having a difference rather than an disability.[16] Most members of Deaf culture oppose attempts to cure deafness[17][18][19] and some within this community view cochlear implants with concern as they have the potential to eliminate their culture.[20] The terms hearing impairment or hearing loss are often viewed negatively as emphasizing what people cannot do, although the terms are still regularly used when referring to deafness in medical contexts.[16][21]
Hearing loss is defined as diminished acuity to sounds which would otherwise be heard normally.[15] The terms hearing impaired or hard of hearing are usually reserved for people who have relative inability to hear sound in the speech frequencies. The severity of hearing loss is categorized according to the increase in intensity of sound above the usual level required for the listener to detect it.
Sound waves reach the outer ear and are conducted down the ear canal to the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The vibrations are transferred by the 3 tiny ear bones of the middle ear to the fluid in the inner ear. The fluid moves hair cells (stereocilia), and their movement generates nerve impulses which are then taken to the brain by the cochlear nerve.[75][76] The auditory nerve takes the impulses to the brainstem, which sends the impulses to the midbrain. Finally, the signal goes to the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe to be interpreted as sound.[77]

Acute infections are mainly due to bacteria but persistent ear itching may be related to  a fungal infection. This is known as otomycosis and most cases are due to the Aspergillus spp of fungi, with the Candida spp causing a minority of fungal ear infections. Ear discharge (purulent) with pain, swelling and redness tends to occur in bacterial infections along with the itching. With fungal infections, a persistent itch and watery discharge (serous), which is often referred to as ‘water in the ears’, are more frequently present.
Call centre staff using a telephone headset are vulnerable to ASD because of the increased likelihood of exposure, close to their ear(s), to an acoustic incident randomly transmitted via the telephone line. In the early 1990s, co-inciding with the rapid growth of call centres in Australia, increasing numbers of employees were reporting acoustic shock symptoms (2). A similar pattern was being noticed overseas (3, 4).
For clients with severe ASD, listening to sounds via headphones during a hearing assessment can be highly threatening and often leads to a significant increase in symptoms, which can persist for days. I consider that frequent audiological testing should not be carried out for these clients. Suprathreshold audiological testing should be limited and loudness discomfort testing, in particular acoustic reflex testing due to the volume levels required, is contraindicated. Some ASD clients have unfortunately had their symptoms permanently exacerbated as a result of a traumatic response to acoustic reflex testing.
Conductive hearing loss is sometimes temporary and can be treated with medication or minor surgery, if necessary. However, more major surgery may be required to fix the ear drum or hearing bones. If conventional hearing aids don't work, there are also some implantable devices for this type of hearing loss, such as a Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs).
Some medications may reversibly affect hearing. These medications are considered ototoxic. This includes loop diuretics such as furosemide and bumetanide, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) both over-the-counter (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) as well as prescription (celecoxib, diclofenac, etc.), paracetamol, quinine, and macrolide antibiotics.[63] Others may cause permanent hearing loss.[64] The most important group is the aminoglycosides (main member gentamicin) and platinum based chemotherapeutics such as cisplatin and carboplatin.[65][66]

If your hearing loss is caused by a build-up of earwax, it will need to be removed. You may be able to have this done at your surgery by syringing. Warm water is flushed into your ear canal to remove the wax. But first the wax has to be softened by applying olive oil or almond oil drops, or drops containing sodium bicarbonate, for several days beforehand. You can buy these drops from your local pharmacy. In some cases, you may have to go to a specialist clinic to have wax removed by syringing or with microsuction.

The sound perceived may range from a quiet background noise to one that even is heard over loud external sounds. The specific type of tinnitus called pulsatile tinnitus is characterized by hearing the sounds of one's own pulse or muscle contractions, which is typically a result of sounds that have been created by the movement of muscles near to one's ear, or the sounds are related to blood flow in the neck or face.[8]
Some people also experience a lot of pressure and pain in the ears. There can also be headache, muscle and joint pain along the neck, and stiffness of the limbs along with a tingling sensation on the top of the head, arms, and legs. In rare cases, there may be some emotional or psychological problems such as anxiety and panic attacks. The person may feel depressed, tired and frustrated. He/she may lose interest in routine activities. These, however, are common psychological side effects of general ill-health.
The accepted definition of chronic tinnitus, as compared to normal ear noise experience, is five minutes of ear noise occurring at least twice a week.[51] However, people with chronic tinnitus often experience the noise more frequently than this and can experience it continuously or regularly, such as during the night when there is less environmental noise to mask the sound.
With the identification of ASD, output limiters in headset equipment have been developed to restrict maximum volume levels transmitted down a telephone line. However, ASD continues to occur despite their use. In my opinion, they are of benefit primarily to help reduce the probability of an initial acoustic incident exposure. The dominant factors of an acoustic incident leading to ASD appear related to the sudden onset, unexpectedness and impact quality of loudish sounds outside the person's control near to the ear(s), rather than to high volume levels alone. If TTTS develops, because of the vulnerability of further escalation to acoustic incidents at lower volume levels, it is impossible to give a 100% guarantee of protection.
Children may be less likely to say they have tinnitus unless they’re questioned about it. It's important that you talk to your child to get an idea of how they are coping and their feelings towards tinnitus. In fact, most children with tinnitus are not bothered by it. If your child does find it upsetting, always be supportive and reassure your child that they are not alone.
An outer ear infection is sometimes called swimmer’s ear. That’s because it often starts as a result of water that remains in your ear after swimming or bathing. The moisture becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. If your outer ear is scratched or if you irritate the outer lining of your ear by putting your fingers or other objects in your ear, a bacterial infection can occur.
Your ear consists of three major areas: outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Sound waves pass through the outer ear and cause vibrations at the eardrum. The eardrum and three small bones of the middle ear amplify the vibrations as they travel to the inner ear. There, the vibrations pass through fluid in a snail-shaped structure in the inner ear (cochlea).
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Tennessee in 2006. This article has been viewed 3,276,631 times.
Deaf culture refers to a tight-knit cultural group of people whose primary language is signed, and who practice social and cultural norms which are distinct from those of the surrounding hearing community. This community does not automatically include all those who are clinically or legally deaf, nor does it exclude every hearing person. According to Baker and Padden, it includes any person or persons who "identifies him/herself as a member of the Deaf community, and other members accept that person as a part of the community,"[114] an example being children of deaf adults with normal hearing ability. It includes the set of social beliefs, behaviors, art, literary traditions, history, values, and shared institutions of communities that are influenced by deafness and which use sign languages as the main means of communication.[115][116] Members of the Deaf community tend to view deafness as a difference in human experience rather than a disability or disease.[117][118] When used as a cultural label especially within the culture, the word deaf is often written with a capital D and referred to as "big D Deaf" in speech and sign. When used as a label for the audiological condition, it is written with a lower case d.[115][116]
Sound waves reach the outer ear and are conducted down the ear canal to the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The vibrations are transferred by the 3 tiny ear bones of the middle ear to the fluid in the inner ear. The fluid moves hair cells (stereocilia), and their movement generates nerve impulses which are then taken to the brain by the cochlear nerve.[75][76] The auditory nerve takes the impulses to the brainstem, which sends the impulses to the midbrain. Finally, the signal goes to the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe to be interpreted as sound.[77]
Inside your inner ear is the cochlea. This is a coiled tube that is full of fluid and contains tiny hair cells. The vibrations from the middle ear cause the fluid in your cochlea to move the hair cells. When this happens, the hair cells produce electrical signals that pass to the auditory nerve. The auditory nerves transmits these signals to your brain, which converts them into meaningful information such as language or music.
Tinnitus is sometimes called ‘the sound of silence' because most people, if they are seated in a completely quiet soundproofed room, will hear a type of rushing or hissing sound. Usually this sound is masked by everyday environmental noise. It is when this noise becomes intrusive that it can become irritating and is known as ‘tinnitus'. The more anxious the sufferer gets the worse the tinnitus becomes.
If your hearing loss is caused by a bacterial infection of the outer ear canal, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops. Antibiotics taken by mouth are usually prescribed only for very severe middle ear infections. Ask your pharmacist for advice on your medicine, and always read the patient information leaflet that comes with it. If you keep getting ear infections, your doctor may refer you to a specialist.
About half of hearing loss globally is preventable through public health measures.[2] Such practices include immunization, proper care around pregnancy, avoiding loud noise, and avoiding certain medications.[2] The World Health Organization recommends that young people limit exposure to loud sounds and the use of personal audio players to an hour a day in an effort to limit exposure to noise.[11] Early identification and support are particularly important in children.[2] For many, hearing aids, sign language, cochlear implants and subtitles are useful.[2] Lip reading is another useful skill some develop.[2] Access to hearing aids, however, is limited in many areas of the world.[2]
Acoustic neural stimulation is a relatively new technique for people whose tinnitus is very loud or won’t go away. It uses a palm-sized device and headphones to deliver a broadband acoustic signal embedded in music. The treatment helps stimulate change in the neural circuits in the brain, which eventually desensitizes you to the tinnitus. The device has been shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating tinnitus in a significant number of study volunteers.
Treatment and management of tinnitus include talk therapy, the use of sound generators, hearing aids, tinnitus counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and tinnitus retraining therapy. As of 2013, there is no known effective medication. Most patients are able to tolerate the ringing well, but approximately 1 to 2 percent of patients are significantly impaired by it.

As of 2018 there were no medications effective for idiopathic tinnitus.[3][74][94] There is not enough evidence to determine if antidepressants[95] or acamprosate are useful.[96] There is no high-quality evidence to support the use of benzodiazepines for tinnitus.[3][94][97] Usefulness of melatonin, as of 2015, is unclear.[98] It is unclear if anticonvulsants are useful for treating tinnitus.[3][99] Steroid injections into the middle ear also do not seem to be effective.[100][101] There is no evidence to suggest that the use of betahistine to treat tinnitius is effective.[102]

If you are referred to a specialist tinnitus clinic, and your tinnitus is particularly troublesome, you will be introduced to more formal or structured ways of managing tinnitus. Most centres use a combination of approaches. You may come across some terms before, or hear them when you get there, and it helps to have some understanding of what these terms are.

People who live with tinnitus might have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. In order to sleep well, our bodies and our minds need to be relaxed. Worrying about the tinnitus, or worrying about how much sleep you’re getting (or missing out on), is unhelpful and will only make it more difficult to sleep. Most people with tinnitus sleep well and their tinnitus is no different from those who do not sleep well. People who have tinnitus and sleep poorly tend to worry more at night than people with tinnitus who sleep well. Working through problems during waking hours is better than in the middle of the night when you have nothing else to occupy you.


If you are experiencing hearing loss, you should see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, who can make a specific diagnosis for you, and talk to you about treatment options, including surgical procedures. A critical part of the evaluation will be a hearing test (audiogram) performed by an audiologist (a professional who tests hearing function) to determine the severity of your loss as well as determine if the hearing loss is conductive, sensorineural, or a mix of both.
^ El Dib RP, Mathew JL, Martins RH (April 2012). El Dib RP (ed.). "Interventions to promote the wearing of hearing protection". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 4 (4): CD005234. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005234.pub5. PMID 22513929. (Retracted, see doi:10.1002/14651858.cd005234.pub6. If this is an intentional citation to a retracted paper, please replace {{Retracted}} with {{Retracted|intentional=yes}}.)

The best supported treatment for tinnitus is a type of counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which can be delivered via the internet or in person.[5][68][82] It decreases the amount of stress those with tinnitus feel.[83] These benefits appear to be independent of any effect on depression or anxiety in an individual.[82] Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) also shows promise in the treatment of tinnitus.[84] Relaxation techniques may also be useful.[3] A clinical protocol called Progressive Tinnitus Management for treatment of tinnitus has been developed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.[85]
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