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Hi Doc, how can I tell if I am losing my hearing? What should I do?

Dear friends,

Welcome back to Dr Euan's TGIF Blog!

This week, we are going to look at HOW we can tell / suspect that we may have hearing loss?

What are the signs to look out for? Also, what should we do if we suspect that we have a hearing impairment? Do read on!

Q: What are the signs of hearing loss?

It's not always easy to tell if you're losing your hearing.

Anyone can experience hearing loss, not just the elderly. It can even come on suddenly or be idiopathic.

Some common signs include:

  • difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places

  • asking people to repeat themselves

  • listening to music or watching TV with the volume higher than other people need

  • difficulty hearing on the phone

  • finding it hard to keep up with a conversation

  • finding yourself reading people's lips, instead of listening to their words to understand what they are saying

  • feeling tired or stressed from having to concentrate while listening

On occasion, people affected by hearing loss may also experience tinnitus, a persistent ringing sound in the ear when there is no noise present, or even vertigo and dizziness in some cases.

Sometimes someone else might notice problems with your hearing before you do. So do listen to feedback from your spouse/ children/ family members.

Q: What are the common causes of hearing loss?

There are lots of possible causes of hearing loss. It may be caused by something treatable, or it may be permanent.

Your symptoms may give you an idea what could be causing it. But do not self-diagnose, see a GP for further advice.

Common causes of hearing loss and related symptoms:

Possible Symptoms Cause (you can click on the links below for further advice)

Gradual hearing loss in both ears Ageing or damage from loud noise over many years

Difficulty hearing in 1 ear, earache, Ear infection

a feeling of pressure in your ear,

discharge coming out of the ear

Difficulty hearing in 1 ear, itchiness, Earwax build-up

feeling like your ear is blocked

Sudden hearing loss after an ear infection, Perforated eardrum

a very loud noise or a change in air pressure

(for example, from flying)

Sudden hearing loss along with dizziness, Labyrinthitis or Ménière's disease

a spinning sensation (vertigo)

or ringing in your ears (tinnitus)

Q: What are some treatments for hearing loss?

Treatment for hearing loss depends on the cause of the loss.

Sometimes a GP may be able to treat the cause, for example:

  • an ear infection that might be treated with antibiotics

  • an earwax build-up that might be treated with ear drops or removal of the wax build-up

If your hearing loss is not caused by something a GP can treat, they may refer you to an ENT or an audiologist for further tests and treatment.

Q: How about hearing aids and inner ear implants?

If you have permanent hearing loss, a specialist may recommend hearing aids.

These will not make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer.

You can read about an audiologist's advice on hearing aids in this blog post by Dr Shermin Lim.

Some people may need a cochlear or inner ear hearing implant.

These are devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear.

If you are concerned / worried that you might have hearing loss, consult your GP or make an appointment to see an ENT Specialist. If you would like to consult with Dr Euan, you can contact us at Euan's ENT Surgery & Clinic to book an appointment.

Meanwhile, here are some useful references if you wish to read / study more on hearing loss issues:

Have a great weekend! Dr Euan


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