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GPs should identify and act on red flags such as neurological deficits, says Dr Zara Aziz.
Hearing loss affects most individuals at some point in their lives. One in five people in the UK have hearing difficulties and minor hearing loss is common after the age of 20 years. It can be temporary, such as when suffering from ear infections, or a more permanent sensorineural loss of old age.
1. Classifying hearing loss
Hearing loss is classified as sensorineural, conductive or both (mixed) Sensorineural loss is usually due to inner ear (sensory) or auditory nerve (neural) lesions.
The distinction is important as some forms of sensory hearing loss are reversible, unlike neural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is unable to reach the inner ear through mechanical problems of the outer or middle ear, for example, because of impacted wax.
Mixed hearing loss can result from severe head injury, chronic infection or various genetic syndromes.
2. Aetiology …