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
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

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 muscle weakness
minor pain in cold/cool/damp weather
severe rheumatoid arthritis
long term neck stiffness
history of solvent exposure
daily morning stiffness
incoherent speech
inability to tell hot from cold
heaviness of the legs
pitted nails
rheumatoid arthritis
much reduced sense of taste
... and more than 50 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
Multiple Sclerosis 96% Confirm
Guillain-Barre Syndrome 26% Unlikely
Meniere's Disease 12% Unlikely
Rheumatoid Arthritis 5% Ruled out
Meningitis 3% Ruled out
Encephalitis 3% Ruled out
Brain Tumor 0% Ruled out
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 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:

The inner ear is filled with endolymph – a finely balanced fluid that requires an adequate supply of nutrients to transmit sound.  When dehydration sets in, blood supply decreases and mineral imbalances occur, causing symptoms such as dizziness/vertigo, poor balance, hearing loss, tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in the ears.


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 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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