hearing aid examine

Common conditions treated by the Penn Audiology team include:

Hearing loss caused by:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Congenital hearing loss
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Ototoxicity (caused by drugs or chemicals)

Symptoms of Audiologic Conditions

Hearing loss can cause inability to hear sound, possible ringing in the ears, sensitivity to sound and can lead a person to isolate themselves because of the inability to communicate. This inability to communicate can also cause irritability, social anxiety and depression.

The most common symptoms of audiologic conditions include:

  • The inability to hear certain sounds or discriminate speech
  • Certain sounds seem too loud
  • Difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking
  • Trouble hearing in noisy areas
  • Difficulty differentiating between high-pitched sounds (such as “s” or “th”) 
  • More difficulty hearing women’s voices versus men’s
  • Hearing voices as mumbled or slurred
  • Ringing in the ears 
  • Sensitivity to sound 
  • Hissing, whistling or buzzing in the ears

Causes of Audiology Conditions

The many causes of audiology conditions include:

  • Malformation of the outer, middle, or inner ear
  • Genetic conditions (more than 400 are known)
  • Damage to the very small bones (ossicles) in the middle ear
  • Fluid remaining in the ear after an infection
  • Scar on the eardrum from repeated infections
  • An infection passed from a mother to her baby in the womb (such as toxoplasmosis, rubella, or herpes)
  • Birth defects
  • Childhood infections, such as meningitis, mumps, scarlet fever, and measles
  • Meniere’s Disease (a disorder of the inner ear)
  • A foreign object lodged in the ear canal
  • A hole in the eardrum
  • Benign tumors (acoustic neuroma/ vestibular schwannoma)
  • Tumors
  • Otosclerosis (a malfunction of the bones of the middle and inner ear) 
  • Head trauma
  • Aging
  • Regular exposure to loud noises (from work or recreation)
  • Trauma from explosions, fireworks, gunfire, rock concerts, and earphones
  • Perforated ear drum
  • Pressure differences between the inside and outside of the eardrum, often from scuba diving
  • Skull fractures (can damage the structures or nerves of the ear)
  • Buildup of wax in the ear canal
  • Use of certain medicines

Risks and Preventions for Audiologic Conditions

Preventing hearing loss may not always be possible, but here are a few ways you can avoid damaging your hearing:

  • Reduce your exposure to loud environments like clubs, concerts, or any place with intense noise.
  • When you’re in a loud environment, wear earplugs or sound-cancelling earphones.
  • Pay close attention to any changes in your hearing and make an appointment to see a specialist if you notice any issues with communication.
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