• Hearing loss is the reduced ability to hear sound. Deafness is the complete inability to hear sound.

  • Hearing loss is a spectrum with minor hearing problems at one end and profound, complete deafness at the other.

  • Profound deafness is easy to recognize, since people will notice such a large change in hearing. Milder hearing loss may not be noticed right away, since it often comes on gradually and people "get used to it."

  • There are many tests to measure hearing loss or track down its cause. Your doctor will examine your ear with an otoscope and may refer you to another doctor who specializes in hearing disorders (otologists or otolaryngologists).

  • Sensorineural hearing loss and deafness tends to be permanent because it involves damage to nerves or to the inner ear. The only method of treatment is a hearing aid worn in the ear, a device that amplifies the volume of sound electronically. The body aid, used if there is profound hearing loss, is the most powerful kind of hearing aid.

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