Recent Hearing Loss

What Causes Decreased Hearing Ability?

Decreased hearing ability can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose decreased hearing ability, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "decreased hearing ability" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Brain Tumor
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Middle Ear Infection
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Manganese Need
  • Dehydration

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
severe tongue swelling
specific muscle weakness
infrequent daytime urination
very watery eyes
greatly reduced arm function
frequent painful cervical nodes
chronic headaches
recent "don't care" attitude
difficulty falling asleep
occasionally feeling unusually cold
occasional 'chills'
macrocytic red cells
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of decreased hearing ability:
Cause Probability Status
Middle Ear Infection 92% Confirm
Brain Tumor 21% Unlikely
Meniere's Disease 18% Unlikely
Dehydration 4% Ruled out
Guillain-Barre Syndrome 4% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 2% Ruled out
Manganese Need 2% Ruled out
Multiple Sclerosis 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate ear/hearing problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Has your hearing ability in one or both ears decreased over the past several years?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No, my hearing has remained about the same
→ Yes, it is slightly worse now (slow decline)
→ Yes, it is a lot worse now (rapid decline)
→ Yes, I have (almost) completely lost my hearing
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no hearing loss, gradual hearing loss, rapid hearing loss or severe/complete hearing loss, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Encephalitis

Encephalitis can cause sensorineural hearing loss.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Deafness is unusual but has been reported.

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's disease can cause sensorineural hearing loss.

Meningitis

Meningitis can cause sensorineural hearing loss.

Middle Ear Infection

Middle ear infections can cause conductive hearing loss.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis that affects auditory nerve pathways in the brain can cause sensorineural hearing loss.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rarely, rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints between the ossicles and can cause conductive hearing loss.

Sarcoidosis

Nervous system effects, including hearing loss, meningitis, seizures or psychiatric disorders (for example, dementia, depression, psychosis) are possible signs of sarcoidosis.

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