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Hearing Concerns

Common Hearing Concerns

Cary Audiology offers comprehensive hearing healthcare solutions covering various hearing concerns for patients of all ages. Our team at Cary Audiology aims to enhance our patients’ quality of life through exceptional, up-to-date, and reliable hearing healthcare services.

We address common hearing concerns including:

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most common hearing concerns. It is a condition that results when any part of the ear isn’t working properly. Known as the third most common health problem in the United States, hearing loss can greatly affect quality of life, specifically relationships, career, and/or mental health.

Hearing Loss FAQs:

Can hearing loss be cured?

Hearing loss cannot be completely cured; however, it can be managed or treated. Hearing aids are the top solution for most types of hearing loss. In some cases, more aggressive or invasive treatments may be used to manage hearing loss such as cochlear implants or bone-anchored hearing aids.

What are the 3 types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss is categorized into three types – conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss

The outer and middle ear are affected by conductive hearing loss. A person diagnosed with conductive hearing loss may have difficulty hearing soft sounds. Meanwhile, loud sounds may be heard but may appear muffled. Surgery or medicine may address this type of hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs as a result of damage to the inner ear. Damage to the sensory hair cells inside the organ of hearing causes this form of hearing loss. Additionally, damage can also occur to the nerves that run from the ear to the brain, otherwise known as the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss may be progressive in nature or caused by genetic and age-related factors.

Mixed Hearing Loss 

Mixed hearing loss has the characteristics of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This implies that there is significant damage in both the inner ear and outer/middle ear.

Ear Infections 

Ear infections manifest in various patterns. A case may be referred to as an acute ear infection if the condition clears up after treatment or medications. If the condition clears up but comes back as frequently as three times in a 6-month period, it may be referred to as acute otitis media. Some ear infections may be caused by a malfunctioning Eustachian tube or a fluid buildup in the middle ear. A visit to an audiologist is the best way to determine the type and severity of an ear infection.

Ear Infection FAQs:

How would I know if I have an ear infection?

One of the primary symptoms of ear infection is linked to a sense of fullness in the ear. Otitis media may manifest with a fever. A person with an ear infection may also experience pain, itchiness, or fluid draining from the ear. 

How do I get rid of an infection in my ear?

While most cases of ear infections can clear up on their own, there are some home remedies that may help. These include applying hot or cold compresses, using OTC pain relievers, or adjusting one’s sleep position. In cases where home remedies don’t work, a visit to an audiologist hearing healthcare provider is recommended.


Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of an actual external source. It can present itself as a ringing, buzzing, humming, or thumping in the ears. In most cases, tinnitus isn’t a sign of a serious health concern. However, if left untreated, it can lead to fatigue, depression, and problems with memory and concentration. Cary Audiology offers tinnitus evaluations on top of primary hearing services. 

Tinnitus FAQs:

How can I relieve tinnitus?

There are various approaches to treat or manage ringing in the ears including noise-canceling headphones, hearing aids with sound maskers, cognitive behavioral therapy, white noise devices, and lifestyle changes.

Are there ear drops for tinnitus?

Tinnitus is more of a symptom rather than a disease, so getting to the bottom of what’s causing the ringing in the ears is the best initial step to take. If tinnitus is caused by earwax build-up or impacted earwax, ear drops or professional earwax removal may be necessary.

What are the causes of tinnitus?

There are various possible causes of tinnitus which include:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Impacted earwax
  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Benign tumor of the cranial nerve


Medically known as cerumen, earwax may present itself as a brown, yellowish, orange, or red waxy substance in the ear canal. Earwax is a natural body secretion that serves as a protector and lubricant of the ear canal. Too much earwax can lead to various auditory concerns such as hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo.

Earwax FAQs:

How do you know if you have earwax buildup?

The following symptoms might be observed when there is earwax buildup:

  • Pain in the ear
  • Muffled hearing which may be progressive
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ear
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Itchiness in the ear
  • Discharge or odor coming from the ear
  • Dizziness

How often should you clean your ears?

Earwax is natural, normal, and healthy. However, too much earwax production can lead to or worsen hearing loss. While cleaning the ears may seem like it needs to be done daily, audiologists do not really recommend daily cleaning or maintenance. In fact, too much ear cleaning can trigger various hearing concerns.  

When the ears have too little earwax, they may be prone to itchiness and infection. Proper balance is key to enjoying a healthy ear environment.

Why does my ear feel blocked?

The ears may feel blocked due to a number of reasons including fluid buildup, severe head trauma, foreign object(s) in the ear, impacted earwax, or ear infections. In cases like these, scheduling an appointment with an audiologist is highly recommended to ensure that the ears can be checked by a professional using the right tools and equipment.

Meniere’s Disease 

Meniere’s disease is a condition of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, a type of dizziness that gives a sensation that the room is spinning. Meniere’s disease can also cause ringing in the ears, intermittent hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

Meniere’s Disease FAQs:

What are the main causes of Meniere’s disease?

The main cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown but potential triggers have been associated with:

  • Infection in the inner or middle ear
  • Head injury or history of concussions
  • Allergies
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Alcohol use
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Smoking

Is Meniere’s disease serious?

Although Meniere’s disease can be troublesome, it’s not contagious or fatal. In most cases, Meniere’s disease is a chronic health condition.

What is the difference between vertigo and Meniere’s disease?

Sudden movements may trigger vertigo episodes including sitting up, turning over in bed, or turning around. Meanwhile, Meniere’s disease is a condition where fluid builds up in the inner ear. People with Meniere’s disease may experience sudden episodes of vertigo that may last several hours without any sudden movements involved.


Vertigo is a sensation that the room is spinning in circles. It can make a person feel extremely dizzy and off-balance. Vertigo isn’t a disease but a symptom of varying conditions.

There are two main types of vertigo:

  1. Central vertigo: This type is linked to issues with the brain including infection, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, or stroke.
  2. Peripheral vertigo: This is associated with problems with the inner ear.

Vertigo FAQs:

What should I know about vertigo vs. dizziness?

While dizziness and vertigo are considered problems related to balance, the two symptoms are significantly different. Dizziness is simply an overall feeling or perception of being unbalanced. Vertigo is a sensation that the environment is spinning.

Who does vertigo affect?

Vertigo episodes can happen at any age but medical studies have shown that it’s more common in people over 65. Women are more likely to experience vertigo than men, and it may even be a side effect of pregnancy.

Is vertigo a serious condition?

Vertigo may not belong to the list of serious hearing concerns, but episodes can be worrisome and scary, especially when they occur in public. However, the condition isn’t considered serious or fatal, although it can be linked to potentially serious health concerns. It’s highly important to inform your healthcare provider if you experience prolonged or recurrent vertigo episodes.

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

Auditory processing disorder usually starts in childhood but some people may develop it later in life. A person with APD may find it difficult to understand similar-sounding words, speech in noisy places, spoken instruction, and people with strong accents or those who are talking very fast.

Auditory processing is not a hearing problem, but most patients relate it to significant hearing concerns. In fact, people with auditory processing disorder have normal hearing.

Auditory Processing Disorder FAQs:

How is APD diagnosed?

An individual getting tested for APD may be asked to do the following during an evaluation:

  • Listen to speech with background noise
  • Fill in missing parts of words
  • Identify small changes in sounds
  • Fill in missing parts of words

Other tests may include:

  • speech and language tests
  • memory, problem-solving, and concentration tests
  • having electrodes on the head to measure how the brain reacts to sound
  • auditory brainstem testing that measures how the brain responds to sound via electrodes placed on the scalp

Testing for auditory processing disorder is not usually done on children younger than 7 years old.

How do you treat auditory processing disorder?

Currently, there is no cure for auditory processing disorder. However, there are various therapies that can help.

APD intervention and management usually involve activities or strategies to help improve listening and concentration, referred to as auditory training. Audiologists or hearing specialists provide auditory training for people of all ages. Cary Audiology offers aural rehabilitation and group aural rehabilitation to help improve communication.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, affecting about 9 out of 10 people with hearing loss. Having sensorineural hearing loss implies that there is damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or to the nerve pathways that line the inner ear and brain. Once a person is diagnosed with SNHL, the condition cannot be reversed.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss FAQs:

What are the causes of sensorineural hearing loss?

The following factors may lead to sensorineural hearing loss:

  • Illnesses.
  • Ototoxic drugs
  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • A blow to the head
  • Abnormality in the inner ear structure
  • Exposure to loud noises or explosions

Will a hearing aid help with sensorineural hearing loss?

Hearing aids can significantly improve hearing and speech, especially in persons with sensorineural hearing loss and related hearing concerns. If hearing aids cannot provide sufficient hearing benefits, cochlear implants or bone-anchored devices may be an alternative.

What are the symptoms of nerve damage in the ear?

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by nerve damage in the ear which may include the following symptoms:

  • Sounds fading in and out 
  • Mild to severe hearing loss
  • Problems in speech perception especially in noisy environments
  • Normal hearing but with poor speech perception


Cary Audiology Associates offers comprehensive hearing healthcare solutions for a wide range of hearing concerns.

Our goal is to enhance the quality of life of individuals with hearing concerns through world-class, reliable, and compassionate hearing healthcare services.

Your journey to better hearing starts now – contact us today to schedule an appointment!