Diseases associated with hearing loss

Diseases associated with hearing loss

Hearing loss is often a symptom of various illnesses. In some cases it is temporary, while in other circumstances the damage may be permanent. The following details some such illnesses, describing the causes and treatment of the illnesses, as well as preventative measures.


Acute labyrinthitis


Menière's disease

Otitis media

Earwax blockage


What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a buzzing noise in the ear, that seems to originate in the ear or head. It can be a significant source of annoyance and some sufferers can be quite distressed by it.

What causes tinnitus?

Exposure to excessively loud noise.

A build up of wax in the ear canal.

Certain medications.

Rarely it is associated with tumours in the brain or auditory nerve.

How is tinnitus treated?

The current state of treatment for tinnitus is not entirely satisfactory. Some people are helped with "maskers" which reduce the level of buzzing.

How can I prevent tinnitus?

You can wear ear protection in a noisy environment.

What is acute labyrinthitis?

This is inflammation of the portion of the ear that is responsible for sensing balance.

What is the cause of labyrinthitis?

Most cases are attributed to viral infection of the vestibular nerve.

What are the symptoms of labyrinthitis?

Severe vertigo (spinning sensation).


Disturbances of eye movements.

Hearing loss.

How is labyrinthitis treated?

Usually it will just run its course.

Medication may be prescribed to relieve the vertigo and nausea.

What is otosclerosis?

This is the abnormal growth of bone in the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss.

What are the symptoms of otosclerosis?

Progressive hearing loss.

How is otosclerosis treated?

Surgery, with a procedure called stapedectomy.

Hearing aids.

What is Ménière's disease?

This is a progressive disorder of the inner ear. Episodes can occur in one or both ears.

What causes Ménière's disease?

Unknown, although it probably is caused by abnormal fluid action in the inner ear.

What are the symptoms of an attack of Ménière's disease?

Attacks of vertigo (spinning sensation).


Progressive hearing loss.

How is Ménière's disease treated?

Medication can be prescribed to relieve the vertigo.

In some cases surgery is advised.

What is otitis media?

This is an inflammation of the middle ear, and is sometimes described as an 'ear infection'.

What causes otitis media?

Bacteria enter the middle ear by travelling up the Eustachian tube from the throat. This causes inflammation in the Eustachian tube and middle ear. This results in the production of fluid which leads to an increase in pressure within the middle ear.

What are the symptoms of otitis media?

Ear pain.



Temporary hearing loss..

How is otitis media treated?

By using oral antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria.

Paracetamol helps to relieve the pain and reduce body temperature.

If fluid persists in the middle ear it may need to be removed surgically. This is not usually necessary

What is an earwax blockage?

This is the accumulation of wax which blocks the canal. Sound waves cannot pass through the eardrum, and so hearing becomes muffled.

What causes earwax blockage?

It is important to realise that wax is not dirt. It has an important function in terms of protecting and waterproofing the outer ear. Some people simply produce too much wax. Attempts to clean the ears can sometimes press the wax deeper into the canal.

What are the symptoms of earwax blockage?

Muffled hearing, often worsening after swimming and other water activities.

What is the treatment

Clean ears regularly.

Some people may need occasional syringing of the ear to remove the excess wax.

Back to top of page