Being able to hear (and identify sounds) is something we often take for granted. However, our auditory (hearing) system is highly complex, so there are several ways it can go wrong.
It is easy to assume that hearing problems are simply a matter of mild to severe deafness. This is when sounds are muffled or always appear to be far away. In fact, hearing problems can involve missing just some types of sound, such as certain pitches, or having additional noises such as a ‘ringing’ in your ears.
Some people don’t even realise they have hearing loss until they are tested. Maybe a loved one urges you to address the problem, as you have started to have the television on loud, or you're missing things said to you when you’re not facing the speaker.
Also, the symptoms of hearing loss can appear suddenly, or become worse over time. They include struggling to identify quiet, low or high sounds. This may be accompanied by other symptoms including pain or pressure in your ears or problems with your balance. Do you find yourself tilting your head or moving it to one side to hear better?
A further symptom could be an unpleasant smell or discharge that comes from your ear.
There is a possibility that your hearing problems are caused by a birth defect or trauma that has damaged the delicate mechanisms inside your ear. Or, that you have an auditory processing disorder, and your brain is struggling to identify different sounds.
It is far more likely that your hearing problems are conductive. This means sounds are not travelling through your ear to your brain efficiently, due to a blockage. Common conductive causes include a build-up of ear wax or infection in your ear canal. There are rarer cases when the blockage is a tumour or abnormal bone growth.
In your middle ear (the area behind the ear drum), a build-up of fluid is a common cause of conductive hearing problems, particularly in young children. There is also a chance that pressure in your ear has ruptured your eardrum, or that a previous tear has created scar tissue that interferes with sound conduction.
As we age so does the hearing mechanism and it is very clear that age-related hearing loss (presbysacusis) is the common cause of hearing loss in adults. It is very important that you are assessed and treated for this as soon as symptoms are noticed to help prevent negative impact upon your quality of life.
Treatment options for hearing problems
Much depends on the location, cause and severity of your hearing loss.
When adults or children have fluid build-up – often referred to as ‘glue ear’ – treatment may include a simple procedure to insert a small temporary tube (Grommet) to drain the fluid. For many outer ear issues leading to hearing problems, antibiotics and ear wax removal procedures may be used.
Ear wax removal is routinely performed in the clinic setting by Mr Lakhani using the latest high power microscopes and endoscopes to ensure you kept absolutely comfortable and safe during your wax removal.
Rarely, complex causes of hearing loss may require further test or scans and surgery. If your hearing problem would benefit from hearing amplification Mr Lakhani will ensure you are only referred to the very best providers in London.