Conductive hearing loss results when there is any problem in delivering sound energy to your cochlea, the hearing part in the inner ear. Common reasons for conductive hearing loss include blockage of your ear canal, a hole in your ear drum, problems with three small bones in your ear, or fluid in the space between your ear drum and cochlea. Fortunately, most cases of conductive hearing loss can be improved.
If your only symptom is an earache, you may want to wait a day or two before seeing a doctor. Sometimes ear infections resolve on their own within a few days. If the pain isn’t getting better and you’re running a fever, you should see your doctor as soon as you can. If fluid is draining from your ear or you’re having trouble hearing, you should also seek medical attention.
Hearing loss can be inherited. Around 75–80% of all these cases are inherited by recessive genes, 20–25% are inherited by dominant genes, 1–2% are inherited by X-linked patterns, and fewer than 1% are inherited by mitochondrial inheritance. Syndromic deafness occurs when there are other signs or medical problems aside from deafness in an individual, such as Usher syndrome, Stickler syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome, Alport's syndrome, and neurofibromatosis type 2. Nonsyndromic deafness occurs when there are no other signs or medical problems associated with an individual other than deafness.
^ Tyler RS, Pienkowski M, Roncancio ER, Jun HJ, Brozoski T, Dauman N, Dauman N, Andersson G, Keiner AJ, Cacace AT, Martin N, Moore BC (2014). "A review of hyperacusis and future directions: part I. Definitions and manifestations" (PDF). American Journal of Audiology. 23 (4): 402–19. doi:10.1044/2014_AJA-14-0010. PMID 25104073. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 9, 2018. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
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.
Other sound-enhancing technologies include personal listening systems that allow you to tune in to what you want to hear and mute other sounds. TV-listening systems make it possible for you to hear the television or radio without turning the volume way up. Different kinds of phone-amplifying devices as well as captioned phones that let you read what your caller is saying make conversations possible on home and mobile phones.
In cases of infection, antibiotics or antifungal medications are an option. Some conditions are amenable to surgical intervention such as middle ear fluid, cholesteatoma, and otosclerosis. If conductive hearing loss is due to head trauma, surgical repair is an option. If absence or deformation of ear structures cannot be corrected, or if the patient declines surgery, hearing aids which amplify sounds are a possible treatment option. Bone conduction hearing aids are useful as these deliver sound directly, through bone, to the cochlea or organ of hearing bypassing the pathology. These can be on a soft or hard headband or can be inserted surgically, a bone anchored hearing aid, of which there are several types. Conventional air conduction hearing aids can also be used.
The middle ear is connected to the back of your nose and upper part of your throat by a narrow channel called the auditory tube (eustachian tube). The tube opens and closes at the throat end to equalize the pressure in the middle ear with that of the environment and drain fluids. Equal pressure on both sides of the eardrum is important for normal vibration of the eardrum.
In the United States hearing is one of the health outcomes measure by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a survey research program conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. It examines health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. Data from the United States in 2011-2012 found that rates of hearing loss has declined among adults aged 20 to 69 years, when compared with the results from an earlier time period (1999-2004). It also found that adult hearing loss is associated with increasing age, sex, race/ethnicity, educational level, and noise exposure. Nearly one in four adults had audiometric results suggesting noise-induced hearing loss. Almost one in four adults who reported excellent or good hearing had a similar pattern (5.5% on both sides and 18% on one side). Among people who reported exposure to loud noise at work, almost one third had such changes.
If you think your child has tinnitus, see your child’s GP. They may refer your child to a paediatric ENT specialist for further tests. Therapy and support are available for your child if they are diagnosed with tinnitus and they are bothered or distressed by it. If your child is not bothered by their tinnitus, you may just need reassurance about their condition.