Learning About Abnormal Hearing Test Results

Picture of the parts of the ear

What is an abnormal hearing test result?

An abnormal hearing test happens when your hearing tests don't have normal results. This doesn't always mean you have permanent hearing loss. Some types of hearing loss may get better on their own, and others can be treated or reversed.

A test may show that you hear better in one ear than the other or that you can't hear certain tones, or frequencies. For example, you may not be able to hear high-pitched sounds.

What are some different types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.

  • In conductive hearing loss, sound is blocked before it reaches the inner ear. This type of hearing loss may be temporary or reversible. For example, a buildup of wax in the ear or an ear infection can cause hearing loss that goes away with treatment.
  • In sensorineural hearing loss, sound reaches the inner ear. But a problem in the inner ear or in the nerves that allow you to hear prevents proper hearing. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent. Hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise over time is an example of this type of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can range from mild to moderate to severe.

What can you do?

  • If your hearing loss is caused by a problem that can be treated, ask your doctor about the best treatment.
  • If your hearing loss is permanent, talk to your doctor about hearing aids. In some people, a cochlear implant is an option. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help "make" sound.
  • Set up follow-up hearing tests and doctor visits so you can track your hearing.
  • Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your hearing loss is getting worse.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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