There are two general types of hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss and Sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by any disruption in the passage of sound from the external ear via the middle ear to the oval window. Possible causes are impacted wax, tympanic membrane perforation, otitis media, middle ear effusion, ossicle problems including otosclerosis. Such hearing losses are often correctable with medical or surgical treatment.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the delicate hair cells of the cochlea or the nerve fibres of the auditory nerve. Presbyacusis, or hearing loss related to aging, and noise induced damage are the commonest causes. This type of hearing loss in one ear may be due to an underlying benign tumour (acoustic neuroma), Sensorineural hearing loss is generally permanent, though medical treatment of certain conditions can prevent further deterioration. When the hearing deficit exceeds 30% in both ears a hearing device (aid) is frequently a good solution. Occasionally a mixed hearing loss, that is part conductive and part sensorineural, may occur.
Pure tone audiometry, tympanometry and stapedial reflex tests will distinguish beween the different types of hearing loss and provide an indication of the level of disability. These tests will also enable the response to medical treatment to be measured or deterioration over time to be monitored. Otoacoustic emissions may be measured to screen the cochlea for early signs hair cell damage. When a patient has a sensorineural hearing loss in one ear, or which is worse in one ear, an MRI scan of the inner ear is essential to rule out a possible underlying acoustic neuroma.
Dr Gerald Brookes is regularly consulted by the media for his expertise. He has been interviewed by the Daily Mail, featured on Channel 4's Embarassing Bodies, looked after The X-Factor contestants and recently, appeared on BBC Radio 2 with Chris Evans.
Adele was experiencing dizziness and balance problems so severe that she could barely function. In desperation, after consulting her GP to no avail, she got in touch with Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies team. The show then contacted Dr Gerald Brookes, who was able to diagnose her rare condition as Basilar Migraine.
Related link: Embarrassing Bodies
Catherine Eade was having dizzy spells and balance problems. When inexplicably she started suffering memory loss too, she consulted Dr Gerald Brookes at The Harley Street ENT Clinic who correctly diagnosed her problem as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Read her full story in the Daily Mail: Memory like a sieve? Why a simple ear infection may be to blame.
The Harley Street ENT Clinic looked after The X-Factor TV show contestants for many seasons. At the end of the 2010 season, Dr Gerald Brookes was interviewed by Nicky Broyd of Boots WebMD on the perils of high pressure performing.