Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss services offered in Chelmsford, Concord and Woburn, MA and Nashua and Derry, NH

Hearing loss is common as you get older, but the problem also affects 13% children and teens who develop noise-induced hearing loss. The experts at Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates, with offices in Chelmsford, Woburn, and Concord, Massachusetts, and Nashua and Derry, New Hampshire, offer comprehensive care for hearing problems, from ear exams and hearing evaluations to hearing aids. If you have a hard time following conversations or turn the TV volume up high, call the nearest office or book online today.

What causes hearing loss?

There are two primary types of hearing loss and each has different causes: 

Conductive hearing loss

That type of hearing loss occurs when a problem in your outer or middle ear stops sound from reaching the inner ear. The top causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Impacted earwax
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Middle ear infection
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Swimmer's ear
  • Eardrum collapse
  • Foreign object in ear
  • Skin in the middle ear (cholesteatoma)
  • Ear canal defects (aural atresia)
  • Damaged middle ear bones
  • Abnormal bone growth (otosclerosis)

Your hearing usually returns after your Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates provider treats the underlying cause. 

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss develops when sensory cells or the auditory nerve become damaged. Sensory cells in your inner ear turn sound waves into electrical signals. Then the signals go through the auditory nerve to your brain.

You may develop sensorineural hearing loss due to: 

  • Aging (presbycusis)
  • Exposure to loud sounds
  • Meniere's disease
  • Head trauma
  • Cochlear otosclerosis
  • Benign tumor (vestibular schwannoma)
  • Congenital inner ear malformation
  • Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED)

This type of hearing loss is permanent and requires a hearing aid. 

Mixed hearing loss

You may have conductive and sensorineural hearing loss at the same time. 

What are the signs of hearing loss?

Hearing loss often develops gradually, so it helps to know the early signs:

  • Trouble hearing over the telephone
  • Difficulty following conversations when two or more people talk
  • Asking people to repeat what they said
  • Needing to turn up the TV volume
  • Difficulty hearing due to background noise
  • Thinking that others seem to mumble
  • Having a hard time understanding others 

If you notice any of these changes, it's time to schedule a hearing evaluation. 

How is hearing loss diagnosed?

Your Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates provider examines your ear canal and eardrum. Then they do a hearing evaluation (audiological exam) to diagnose the type and extent of your hearing loss. 

Your hearing evaluation includes one or more of the following:

  • Pure tone testing to determine the quietest sounds you can hear
  • Speech testing to determine how well you hear spoken words
  • Tuning fork test to identify the type of hearing loss
  • Tympanometry to measure eardrum movement
  • Auditory brainstem response to measure communication between the ear and brain
  • Acoustic reflex measures to test how your middle ear responds to loud noises
  • Otoacoustic emissions to measure sensory cell vibration

Your provider begins with basic tests like pure tone testing, then decides if you need additional testing based on your results. 

How is hearing loss treated?

People with conductive hearing loss receive the appropriate treatment for their ear problem. For sensorineural hearing loss, you may need:

Noise protection

You can stop progressive noise-induced hearing loss by wearing customized earmolds that filter out damaging sounds. 

Hearing aids

Hearing aids pick up and magnify sound. They can also filter out specific sounds like background noise. Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates offers a large selection of hearing aids (from over the ear to tiny devices hidden inside the ear canal) and a wide range of technology options.

If you have signs of hearing loss, don't wait to schedule an exam. Call Massachusetts Ear, Nose and Throat Associates or book online today.