May 20, 2014
Recently a female patient in her early 60s came to our office and reported she felt she had lost virtually all her remaining hearing over the past month. She had a long history of hearing loss, middle-ear disease, Eustachian tube dysfunction and multiple ear surgeries. She is a hearing aid user, but was not hearing from her instruments. They were working properly and set to her most recent hearing test levels.
Knowing this woman’s medical history, we examined her ear canals with a high-resolution fiber-optic camera after asking her in-depth questions about her recent history. The ventilation tubes most recently inserted in her eardrums were not visible and appeared to be overgrown with skin tissue. Tympanogram results indicated no drum vibration, and the canal volume was normal, indicating the tubes were either absent or clogged.
When the patient was tested in our sound-shielded booth for hearing levels, we found a drastic decrease in hearing levels for both ears. She was not totally deaf, but had a “severe” level of loss, whereas she had formerly been mild to moderate. This person was anxious about her ears and fearful she would lose all remaining hearing. The change was clearly due to the condition of her middle ear and it was clear this woman needed medical or surgical intervention without delay. This early diagnosis was critical.
It may have been easier to simply turn up the gain on the woman’s hearing aids or fit her with new instruments and tell her to call if her hearing improved on its own. Sometimes, however, the easy way to approach a problem is not the best way. After obtaining all history and test data we called the otology practice that had operated on her ears. They accommodated her immediately. In this case the physicians and surgeons were in the best position to address the medical needs of her ears. The diagnostic information we supply will support their medical diagnosis and treatment. We will follow up with the patient as she improves.
Because we are not a retail-model “hearing aid boutique”, we were able to identify and diagnose a problem, integrate it with a patient’s medical history and guide her to the best available help. We take enormous pride in our work as a diagnostic center and satisfaction in partnering with other professionals to solve problems . This has been just one example of such an interaction. An early diagnosis and prompt action was crucial for this patient! As always, we hope to keep you on a CLEAR PATH to good hearing and health.