Ear Works Audiology, P.C.

As we age, gradual hearing loss is a common complaint. An estimated one-third of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 and 50% of those older than 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. It can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent, depending upon the cause. Chronic exposure to loud noises and hereditary factors are the most common reasons why we lose our hearing.

Common signs and symptoms of hearing loss include:

·        Muffled hearing and a feeling that your ear is plugged.

·        Understanding what people are saying, especially in large crowds.

·        Listening to the TV or radio at a higher volume than in the past.

·        Asking people to repeat themselves.

·        Turning up the volume of the Television or radio.

·        The development of depression because of how it affects social interactions.

·        Avoiding social situations or group events.

Hearing loss may be associated with other symptoms including:

·        Vertigo, which is a feeling of spinning.

·        Painful ear or ear drainage.

·        Trouble maintaining balance or the feeling of being unsteady.

·        Ringing or a buzzing noise calls tinnitus.

The two types of hearing loss are:

·        Conductive hearing loss results from a mechanical or obstructive problem of the ear that prevents sound from reaching the nerve part of the inner ear.

·        Sensorineural hearing loss results when there is a problem with the tiny hair cells of the inner ear that transmits sound.

Causes of hearing loss:

·        Gradual buildup of earwax, which blocks the ear canal and prevents conduction of sound waves.

·        Ear infections are the most common cause of temporary hearing loss in children. Unresolved infections or repeated infections can cause permanent damage and hearing loss.

·        Abnormal bone growths or tumors of the outer or middle ear can cause hearing loss.

·        A ruptured eardrum from trauma with Q-tips or pressure changes during air-travel. Exposure to loud sounds over the years can damage the hair cells of your inner ear that send sound signals to the brain. Typically higher pitched tones are the first to become affected.

·        Heredity, certain genetic disease and your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage.

·        Certain medications such as the antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs can damage the inner ear. Large doses of aspirin, NSAIDs (Motrin) or certain water pills can cause ringing in your ears and temporary hearing loss.

·        Any illness that results in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea.

Prolonged and unprotected exposures to loud noises could cause hearing damage. Temporary or even permanent hearing impediment is reported when rock musicians have been exposed to very loud and persistent music. It is important to use adequate hearing protection when exposed to loud noises.

A decibel is a measure of loudness of a particular sound. Anything above 70 to 90 decibels, on a prolonged basis, or anything above 120 decibels, even for a short period of time, can cause hearing loss. To give you an example of what kind of sounds you are exposed to:

Decibels           Noise source   

  30                    Whisper

  60                    Normal conversation

  70                    Washing machine

  90                    Heavy city traffic, power lawn mower, hair dryer

  95                    Motorcycle

 100                   Snowmobile, hand drill, stereo headphones

 110                   Chain saw, rock concert

 120                   Ambulance siren

 140                   Jet engine at takeoff

 165                   12-gauge shotgun blast

 180                   Rocket launch

How is hearing loss evaluated?

Tympanometry is a test that can be done right in your doctor’s office. It can be used to test the ability of the middle ear to transmit sound. This is important in certain conditions such as ear infections where there is fluid behind the eardrum.

An audiogram is a more advanced test administered to those who are suspected of having hearing loss. This test is done with an audiologist in a controlled setting called a hearing booth. This is a very sensitive evaluation that can determine the type and severity of the hearing loss.

How is hearing loss treated?

After hearing loss is identified, a full evaluation should be completed depending upon the type of hearing damage identified. An MRI may be needed to look for structural abnormalities. An ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat physician) consult may be requested for a more complete evaluation. Drainage of fluid by the placement of tympanostomy tubes, surgery for a damaged ear drum, removal of tumors, and fitting for hearing aids are all corrective actions that may improve hearing.

Cochlear implants are a novel new approach to correct nerve hearing loss.  A cochlear implant consists of a microphone, microcomputer and cochlear electrode. The microphone, which is worn behind the ear, sends the sound to a microcomputer that is connected to the microphone by a wire and worn attached to a belt. The microcomputer turns the sound into an electrical code and this is sent by radio wave to an electrode implanted in the cochlea. The cochlear implant does not give normal hearing but does allow the wearer to distinguish sounds.

We understand that it may be difficult to find the right hearing devise for you. A dedicated staff of physicians and audiologists will help improve the quality of your life and social interactions. A visit to your ear specialists will assess and treat hearing and balance disorders, and audiological services include but are not limited to:

·        Comprehensive audiological evaluations for adults and pediatrics.

·        Otoacoustic emission testing on any newborn who fail their initial newborn hearing screening.

·        Monitoring patients hearing who are taking medication that might damage the ear.

·        Evaluate and assist patients who are experiencing tinnitus and dizziness.

Assist with a fall prevention program for many of our senior patients.

In addition to diagnostic services, the following hearing healthcare services are available:

·        Fitting and dispensing of hearing instruments for both the pediatric and adult population.

·        Latest digital hearing aid technology including blue tooth compatibility.

·        Assistive listening devices and FM systems.

·        Aural rehabilitation.

·        Custom ear molds for cell phones and iPods.

·        Musician plugs and other hearing protection devises.

·        Free batteries for the life of the hearing aid.

·        Free adjustments and cleanings for the life of the hearing aid.

·        Quarterly cleanings and adjustments.

·        Reprogramming of hearing aid(s).

·        First year repair and loss and damage warranties.