It’s easy to put off a hearing test if you’re not suffering from a serious hearing problem. A slight muffling in one ear or an occasional buzzing or ringing noise may be annoying from time to time, but hardly a reason to schedule a doctor’s appointment. However, these issues may be symptoms of a more serious medical condition—and a hearing exam could offer you the chance to start treatment before it’s too late.
Medical Conditions That Can Be Identified in a Hearing Screening
Whether your hearing problem is due to natural hearing loss or an underlying medical problem, early detection will always give you the best chance of recovery. A hearing exam can identify early warnings signs of serious conditions, including:
- Chronic disease. Some cases of hearing loss are not caused by a problem with the ear, but by an interruption of blood flow to the ear or brain. Strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Meniere’s disease. If you are experiencing extreme dizziness, loss of balance, and nausea, a hearing screening could lead to a diagnosis of Meniere's disease. This condition is caused by an imbalance of fluids in the inner ear, causing a ringing in the ears (tinnitus), a blocked feeling or hearing loss in one or both ears, and severe vertigo.
- Paget's disease. This bone disorder may have no early symptoms, and cause lifelong injuries and medical conditions in the patient. As time goes on, patients with Paget's disease may suffer hearing loss and chronic headaches, as well as nerve, bone, and joint pain. In severe cases, patients may have abnormally large head sizes, improper spine curvature, or severe bowing of the arms and legs.
- Pendred syndrome. Pendred syndrome is a genetic condition that causes hearing loss, thyroid dysfunction, and balance problems in children. A child who is born with Pendred syndrome is likely to lose hearing function early in life, in some cases before the child reaches three years old. Hearing loss caused by Pendred syndrome will usually worsen over time, and can lead to total deafness.
- Otosclerosis. This disease causes the bones in the middle ear to harden, preventing them from conducting sound into the inner ear. Otosclerosis can often be treated or even reversed with surgery.
Benefits of Undergoing a Regular Hearing Screening
If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, it is doubly necessary for you to keep up with regular hearing testing. Frequent exams allow your hearing care provider to make sure your treatment is at its most effective, and can also monitor your condition for complications such as:
- Degeneration. Treatment with hearing aids can stabilize a patient’s degree of hearing loss, but they are also able to compensate if a patient’s condition gets worse. Your hearing care provider can test your hearing with and without your hearing aids and reprogram your device to make up for the changes in your hearing.
- Balance disorders. Dizziness and nausea responses are controlled by the fluid balance inside a person’s ear. Patients who are having trouble with balance or dizziness may have a treatable condition called vertigo, which can make it seem like the world around them is tilting or spinning.
- Tinnitus. Patients with hearing loss are more likely to suffer from head noise, or tinnitus. This hearing condition causes a constant ringing, whistling, or buzzing sound in the patient’s ears, making it difficult for them to concentrate or sleep. A hearing care professional can determine what is causing your tinnitus, and discuss therapy options to drown out the noise and relieve the stress of the condition.
A proper diagnosis in a hearing screening will allow you to get treatment that is targeted toward your condition. Our hearing care providers offer free hearing examinations for patients throughout Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Simply call the number on this page or fill out our short online contact form to make an appointment at our office location nearest you!