Uncommonly Common Hearing Issues

When you think of hearing problems, the first things that come to mind are probably hearing loss and ear infections. While these certainly top the list, the ears are complex structures and subject to a variety of hearing issues. Residents of Las Vegas might be diagnosed with hearing problems ranging from a ringing sensation to loss of balance.

The Ears Are Complex Structures

diagram of the ear

Hearing loss affects about one in five people in Las Vegas, and there are few children in Nevada who haven’t been treated for at least one ear infection by the age of three. But ear, nose and throat doctors treat other ear problems, as well. Here are some of the most common.

1. Ringing in the ears

About 20 percent of the population experiences tinnitus, a ringing or other sensation (e.g., buzzing, roaring, whooshing, hissing) in the ears. Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound when none is actually occurring. You might think of tinnitus as a medical condition, but it is technically a symptom of something else. That “something else” could be hearing loss, earwax, an inner ear or circulatory system disorder, head injury, benign tumor or even the side effect of a medication you are taking. Symptoms vary considerably from person to person; some people only notice their tinnitus occasionally, while others find it so bothersome it affects practically every waking moment of their lives (and interferes with their sleep, to boot). There is no cure for tinnitus, but coping strategies ranging from sound therapy to counseling and relaxation can help quiet the noise.

2. Sudden hearing loss

Most cases of hearing loss develop gradually over a period of years, but occasionally, hearing loss develops suddenly with little or no warning—in some cases, overnight. This can occur in response to loud noise, such as a concert or sporting event, or following exposure to an intensely loud sound, like a gunshot. Sometimes, the cause is simpler, such as a buildup of earwax. It may affect one or both ears. While frightening, hearing usually returns to normal within a few hours, but in a few cases it may take weeks. Continued exposure to loud sounds without protecting your ears can result in permanent hearing loss.

3. Intense response to sound

If you’ve ever cringed over the sound of nails on a chalkboard, you have some idea of how people with a hearing disorder called misophonia feel. This rare condition causes an intense emotional response to what most perceive as a harmless sound. Chewing, breathing and tapping or clicking are common triggers. The reaction can be so st

4. The rhythmic sound of your pulse

A rare form of tinnitus can cause you to hear the sound of your own pulse in your ears. Known as pulsatile tinnitus, it’s characterized by the sound of your blood circulating through your arteries. The sound appears to be synced to your own pulse. Symptoms are most noticeable when lying down or pressing your ear against something.

5. Dizziness and vertigo

The ears are part of the vestibular (balance) system and provide important sensory information that allows your brain to sense movement. When these signals are disrupted, you may experience dizziness or vertigo (the sensation of a spinning room). Your vertigo may be accompanied by tinnitus—a sign of an inner ear disorder known as Meniere’s disease.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, pay a visit to an ENT doctor in Las Vegas. He or she will be able to diagnose any underlying conditions causing these and will come up with an effective treatment plan.