Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

What causes hearing loss in adults?

There can be many causes of hearing loss in adults. The ear is divided into three parts- external (outer), middle and inner ear. Problems in any of these areas can cause a hearing loss. 

Hearing loss can be either due to interruption to the conduction of the sound to the ear (an external or middle ear problem) or a 'sensorineural' problem (inner ear or the nerve traveling from the ear to the brain). 

What conditions affect the different parts of the ear?

1. External ear

  • Infections ('swimmer's ear')- bacterial or fungal
  • Wax build-up

2. Middle ear

  • Infection ('acute otitis media')
  • Fluid in the middle ear ('otitis media with effusion')
  • Problems with the small bones of hearing (otosclerosis, discontinuity etc)
  • Cholesteatoma

3. Inner ear

  • Viral infection
  • Tumours (usually benign)
  • Mini-strokes

How do you investigate my hearing loss?

A detailed history and examination is the best way to work out why your hearing has deteriorated. Following this, an audiogram (hearing test) can quantify both the severity of your hearing loss and confirm the type of hearing loss (conductive or sensorineural, see above). 

Click here to read more about audiology services at ENT SA.

Do I need a scan?

Sometimes scans are required. Depending on the type of hearing loss I may recommend either a CT scan or an MRI scan. Often we can make the diagnosis and recommend treatment for hearing loss without needing scans.