Differential diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss

Am Fam Physician. 2003 Sep 15;68(6):1125-32.


Hearing loss is a common problem that can occur at any age and makes verbal communication difficult. The ear is divided anatomically into three sections (external, middle, and inner), and pathology contributing to hearing loss may strike one or more sections. Hearing loss can be categorized as conductive, sensorineural, or both. Leading causes of conductive hearing loss include cerumen impaction, otitis media, and otosclerosis. Leading causes of sensorineural hearing loss include inherited disorders, noise exposure, and presbycusis. An understanding of the indications for medical management, surgical treatment, and amplification can help the family physician provide more effective care for these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Cholesteatoma, Middle Ear / complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Glomus Tumor / complications
  • Hearing Loss, Bilateral / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Conductive / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss, Conductive / etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Conductive / therapy
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / therapy
  • Humans
  • Otitis Media / complications
  • Otoscopy