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
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Middle Ear Infection
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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:
hand tremors
increased emotional instability
severe neck pain
frequent rashes
Meniere's disease
being blind or nearly blind
reduced sense of smell
cold weather muscle weakness
stiff neck
slight neck pain
nasal congestion
... and more than 60 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 95% Confirm
Multiple Sclerosis 24% Unlikely
Meniere's Disease 13% Unlikely
Encephalitis 4% Ruled out
Brain Tumor 0% Ruled out
Meningitis 0% Ruled out
Guillain-Barre Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 0% 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 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.

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.


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

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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