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Deafness Symptoms & Diagnosis


Hearing loss usually comes on gradually, but may come on suddenly. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty hearing
  • Ringing in the ears ( tinnitus )
  • Dizziness
  • Ear pain in case of an infection
  • Feeling of ear fullness (as in earwax or fluid)

Symptoms of deafness in infants may be noted at these stages:

  • 1 to 4 months: lack of response to sounds or voices
  • 4 to 8 months:
    • Disinterest in musical toys
    • Lack of verbalization, such as babbling, cooing, making sounds
  • 8 to 12 months: lack of recognition of child’s own name
  • 12 to 16 months: lack of speech

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children (including newborns) should be screened for hearing loss so that hearing loss occurring before birth can be uniformly detected prior to three months of age.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. As part of the diagnosis, your doctor may try to determine the following:

  • Location of the problem
  • Degree of loss
  • Cause—not always possible to identify the exact cause of hearing loss; this information can help guide treatment

Depending on the type of hearing loss you have, the doctor may order tests to confirm your diagnosis. Tests may include:

  • Otoscopy—examination of the structures inside the ear
  • Bone vibrator (also called a tuning fork test)—helps to determine the type of hearing loss
  • Audiogram (also called a hearing test)—measures the degree of hearing loss
  • Tympanometry—measure middle ear fluid and pressures
  • Brainstem auditory evoked response—measures electrical response in the brain to sounds in order to help determine the exact location of certain hearing problems
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body, in this case the head
  • MRI scan —uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body, in this case the head

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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