Our hearing is very important to us, so when our abilities start to wane, it can be very concerning. There are multiple reasons for hearing loss, and some can be reversed through treatment. Many cannot.
If you notice a decrease in your ability to hear, you should contact an ENT doctor in Los Angeles, as treating the cause early could potentially save your hearing. Our ENT specialists in Los Angeles have a demonstrated ability in diagnosing and treating hearing disorders, and we have repeatedly been awarded for our expertise.
Our specialists detail the common causes of hearing loss below.
Many of our patients ask “why does hearing get worse with age?” But there is no known single cause of age-related hearing loss. The inner ear naturally changes as you age, and this is a common cause. Scientists also believe that your genes can also play a large role.
Most hearing loss is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including:
A hearing aid doctor in Los Angeles can help fit you with a device that can increase your ability to hear despite your organic hearing loss. Whether it’s a cochlear implant or hearing aid, our office can examine the nature of your age-related hearing loss to fit you with a solution.
Noise-induced hearing loss symptoms and causes can vary greatly. It can be noticed immediately or over time, and this kind of hearing loss can also be temporary or permanent. Sound-related hearing loss can occur due to a single loud noise or it can be the result of repeated exposure.
Whether it’s a loud machine like a lawnmower or speakers that are turned up to high, noise-related hearing loss can have multiple causes, but it’s recommended that you avoid loud noises in general.
If you work in the following industries, you may be at risk for hearing loss:
If you work in one of the above industries in Los Angeles hearing specialists highly recommend that you wear protective earplugs or earmuffs to minimize the damage caused by the loud noises you’re exposed to.
Hearing loss can also be due to a literal blockage within your ear. A common blockage that our doctors treat is abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum called cholesteatoma.
Cholesteatomas often develop as cysts or pouches that shed layers of old skin, building up to a size that fills the inside of the middle ear. Over time, the blockage caused by cholesteatoma can increase to a size that results in hearing difficulties, and it can even grow so big that it puts pressure on and destroys the surrounding delicate bones of the middle ear. When an ear nose and throat doctor in LA removes your cholesteatoma, your hearing should return to normal.
Otitis media, which is an infection of the middle ear, can sometimes result in hearing loss. This is why it’s important to treat an earache that lasts longer than a few days.
Hearing loss can be caused by an ear infection because an infected inner ear will overproduce earwax and pus, and the buildup of these fluids will absorb sound, making it difficult to hear.
Loud sounds, ear infections, insertion of foreign objects, and head trauma can all rupture your eardrum.
A ruptured or perforated eardrum is when a tear occurs in the thin tissue of your eardrum. A tear in your eardrum can result in hearing loss because the thin tissue of your eardrum will vibrate as part of processing sound. However, your hearing loss should only last as long as your eardrum is torn.
The ear is a complex structure of skin, tissue, and bone, and only a specialist is able to treat your hearing loss. In addition to hearing loss, our ear doctors can also help with other ear-related disorders, such as vertigo and Meniere’s disease.
We accept most PPO insurance plans, Medicare, and select HMO’s to keep hearing relief open and accessible to the Los Angeles community. Our two offices are conveniently located in Santa Monica and Culver City. To set up an appointment to discuss your hearing issues, please call (310) 361-5128 or email email@example.com.
The ear has three main parts: the outer ear, the middle ear & the inner ear.
The outer ear, including the external auditory canal, (the part you can see) opens into the ear canal. The eardrum (tympanic membrane) separates the ear canal from the middle ear. The middle ear contains three small bones which help amplify and transfer sound to the inner ear. These three bones, or ossicles, are called the malleus (or hammer), the incus (or anvil), and the stapes (or stirrup). The inner ear contains the cochlea which changes sound into neurological signals and the auditory (hearing) nerve, which takes sound to the brain.Ear Anatomy
Any source of sound sends vibrations or sound waves into the air. These funnel through the ear opening, down the external ear canal, and strike your eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The vibrations are passed to the three small bones of the middle ear, which transmit them to the cochlea. The cochlea contains tubes filled with fluid. Inside one of the tubes, tiny hair cells pick up the vibrations and convert them into nerve impulses. These impulses are delivered to the brain via the hearing nerve. The brain interprets the impulses as sound (music, voice, a car horn, etc.).
Hearing & Ear Problems
Outer Ear Infections
Outer ear infections can cause itching in the ear canal, pain and swelling of the ear canal, discharge from the ear, and crusting around the ear canal. Your physician will carefully clean and dry your ear. If your ear is very swollen, the physician may insert a wick soaked with an antibiotic into the ear to get the medicine into the infected area. You may need to put drops in your ear several times a day to keep the wick moist. Oral antibiotics may also be indicated if you have a severe infection, or your physician may suggest a cream or ointment medicine for some types of infection.
Middle Ear Infections
A middle ear infection is an infection of the air-filled space in the ear behind the eardrum. Ear infections usually begin with a viral infection of the nose and throat. Ear infections may also occur when you have allergies. Symptoms of a middle ear infection include earache, hearing loss, feeling of blockage in the ear, fever, and dizziness. The physician will check for fluid behind the eardrum, and a hearing test may also be recommended if you are experiencing hearing loss. Antibiotic medicine is a common treatment for ear infections. However, recent studies have shown that the symptoms of ear infections often go away in a couple of days without antibiotics. Your provider may recommend a decongestant (tablets or a nasal spray) to help clear the eustachian tube.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
Benign Proxysmal Positional Vertigo is one of the most common causes of vertigo in adults. It presents with the illusion of movement, which occurs within a few seconds of a change in head positioning. Most commonly a short sensation of spinning is experienced after lying down in bed, arising in the morning, or rolling over in bed at night, but may also occur when one looks up to a high shelf, or down under furniture. Typically, the symptoms last seconds to minutes or so before resolving. BPPV is due to microscopic crystals, or otoconia, floating around in one of the compartments of the inner ear. The movement of these particles stimulate the sensory endings of the vestibular (balance) nerve, producing vertigo.
The good news is that BPPV responds well to physical therapy maneuvers. Medications rarely help. A trained physician or vestibular therapist can perform therapy which can rapidly eliminate the symptoms of dizziness. These maneuvers are designed to relocate the crystals to a part of the inner ear where they will not produce any symptoms. Treatments for BPPV can usually be performed in one or two sessions with very high success rates. This office frequently diagnosis and properly treats this disorder.
Meniere’s Disease is a problem in the inner ear. It can cause severe dizziness (vertigo) and hearing loss. It usually affects just one ear, but it can happen in both ears. There can be a significant hearing loss, but complete deafness is rare. The symptoms can be mild or severe. Although the dizziness can be very disabling, it can usually be controlled.
Excessive amounts of earwax, or cerumen, can block the ear canal and cause temporary hearing impairment. Earwax should be removed only by a professional. Q-tips, ear candeling, or other methods of home earwax removal are not recommended. Please consult your physician if you suspect earwax impaction.
Labyrinthitis & Vestibular Neuritis
Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear. Vestibular neuritis is an inflammation of the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain. In vestibular neuritis, a virus similar to the herpes virus causes an infection. This infection causes swelling and inflammation of the vestibular nerves or the labyrinth. Sometimes bacteria from a middle ear infection cause labyrinthitis. Symptoms of vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis include dizziness or vertigo, trouble maintaining balance, and nausea. Diagnosis may include a hearing evaluation, balance testing, an MRI scan, and possible blood testing.
Otosclerosis is the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear which can cause conductive hearing loss, or the prevention of the normal transmission of sound. It is most common for otosclerosis to affect one of the bones in the middle ear called the stapes. Other symptoms of otoscerlosis may include ringing in the ears and dizziness. Otosclerosis can be diagnosed by your ENT physician, and will include a hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Treatment may consist of a surgery called a stapedectomy, where a prosthetic device replaces the abnormal bone growth.
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is not normal, and can be a symptom of other disorders. Some of the causes of tinnitus are hearing loss, noise exposure, ear infections, sinus infections, Meniere’s disease, ear or head injury, otosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, certain medications, anxiety or stress, heavy smoking, and thyroid disorders. Tinnitus can be described as ringing, buzzing, crickets, escaping air, and many other types of sound. Your physician will ask about your symptoms and may order a hearing test, scans, or blood work to determine the possible cause. Treatment options may include a hearing aid or masking device, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), and perhaps certain medication.
Types of hearing loss: Hearing loss is categorized by what part of the auditory system is damaged. These fall into three categories: Conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, or mixed hearing loss.