As an ENT specialist, hearing problems are an essential part of the services offered by Dr. Jerome List, MD, DDS, with Alaska Ear Nose & Throat in Anchorage, Alaska. Hearing loss is very common in the U.S., especially as you grow older. Dr. List works with patients to identify the cause of hearing problems like tinnitus and create realistic solutions.
Hearing is a very complex sense, so there’s no easy answer to this question. A patient experiencing a reduction in hearing might have anything from an earwax buildup to a more serious inner-ear condition. Aging and exposure to loud noise rank among the more common causes. That’s why you need a specialist to pinpoint your specific medical issue.
Hearing loss and aging are often linked. Age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, may simply be the result of years of exposure to loud noises. Some hearing loss is a symptom of chronic illnesses that tend to affect older people, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. For most, it will be a combination of factors, including the mechanisms that allow you to hear, such as the hair cells in your inner ear wearing out as you age.
Aging isn’t the only risk factor for hearing loss. Hearing loss is categorized in three ways:
Each one comes with its own set of risk factors and causes. Conductive hearing loss means sound waves fail to reach the inner where they can be translated for the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss indicates that the nerves that usually do the translating are failing. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural problems. Ear infection can cause conductive and sensorineural hearing loss: A gradual buildup of earwax blocks the ear canal, keeping sound waves from reaching their destination.
Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing in your ears, which in itself is a phantom noise, meaning there is no external source for it. There are two forms of tinnitus:
Subjective, the most common form, describes tinnitus only the patient can hear. Objective is sound the doctor can also hear, usually related to blood vessel issues or a middle ear bone problem.
The best course of treatment for tinnitus is to identify the underlying cause if possible. All it might take is for Dr. List to remove impacted ear wax. For more severe cases, Dr. List might look for ways to suppress the noise, instead.
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