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Hearing & Balance Disorders

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What Causes Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can result from the natural process of aging, exposure to loud noise (including music), certain illnesses and medications, ear infections and trauma or ear diseases. Hearing loss can occur suddenly but most often occurs gradually over a period of years. For this reason, many people may not realize they have hearing loss. It is common for family members of the hard-of-hearing to notice hearing loss first.

Signs Associated with Hearing Loss in Adults

  • Asking people to repeat what they said
  • Not hearing certain sounds, such as the telephone or doorbell ringing or birds chirping
  • Setting the television or radio volume loudly to be able to hear dialogue
  • Complaining that people "mumble"
  • Difficulty hearing a conversation in noisy places such as restaurants and meetings
  • Difficulty hearing speakers at public meetings or during religious services
  • Staying home to avoid social situations
  • Hearing sounds in the ears such as ringing, buzzing or hissing

Signs Associated with Hearing Loss in Children

  • Delays in speech and language development
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Not passing a hearing screening
  • Repeated ear infections
  • Difficulty in school

What Causes Balance Disorders?

Balance disorders can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, head injury, disorders of blood circulation affecting the inner ear or brain, visual disorders, medicines/drugs, tumors and diseases involving the auditory system, such as Meniere's disease. Due to the many possible causes of balance disorders, you should consult with your primary care physicians to discuss your symptoms and determine the need for evaluation and management.

Signs Associated with Balance Disorders

  • Feeling dizzy with certain head movements
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Feeling motion when not moving
  • Feeling faint or near to passing out
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion and fatigue
  • Clumsiness or feeling off-balance
  • Any combination of the above