Our ears are wonderful, complicated organs – and sometimes they experience some not-so-wonderful, complicated reasons for not functioning properly. Here’s a summary of a few hearing conditions with which you may not be familiar. In the next few articles, we will further explore each of these conditions.
Meniere’s Disease: Think you have a case of vertigo? If the condition persists, it may be Meniere’s Disease, a chronic inner ear disorder than affects balance and hearing. Health professionals believe Meniere’s disease is caused by an improper balance of fluid in the inner ear. Factors that might alter this delicate balance include migraines, allergies, head trauma, viral infections and the inability for the ear to drain properly. Some also believe heredity plays a role.
Diplacusis: Similar to the phenomenon of double vision, individuals with diplacusis have double hearing. These individuals experience a shift in pitch perception, causing them to hear one sound as two. Although musicians typically notice this condition more than others, it occurs frequently in individuals who have normal hearing in one ear and sensorineural hearing loss in the other. Individuals with conductive hearing loss may experience temporary cases of diplacusis.
Otitis Media: If you’ve recently had a cold and can’t hear well, you may have otitis media – otherwise known as a good, old fashioned ear infection. Seventy-five percent of children experience at least one case of otitis media by the time they are three years old. And, while this condition is typically considered a childhood disease, it can strike people of any age..
Acoustic Neuroma: Although acoustic neuroma is a rare condition, it’s the most common form of brain tumor and affects roughly two of every 100,000 people. This slow-growing benign tumor develops on the eighth cranial nerve that connects the ear to the brain. Symptoms can include loss of hearing in one ear, ringing (tinnitus), dizziness (vertigo) and balance problems.
Usher syndrome: Hearing health professionals believe Usher syndrome is responsible for three to six percent of all childhood deafness and 50 percent of deafness and blindness in adults. Symptoms include hearing loss or deafness, a vision disorder called retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and problems with balance. Usher syndrome is inherited. Children with type 1 Usher syndrome are profoundly deaf at birth, those with type 2 are born with moderate to severe hearing loss and those with type 3 are born with normal hearing with progressive hearing and vision loss occurring as teenagers or young adults.