Hearing Loss and Hearing Disorders

Hearing Loss and Hearing Disorders

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Duke hearing specialists provide personalized care to improve your hearing, whether you have difficulty understanding conversations, poor hearing in noisy places, fullness or ringing in your ears, oversensitivity to certain sounds, or other symptoms of hearing loss. We use sophisticated testing to pinpoint the cause of your hearing loss and offer a wide variety of therapies to help you hear and communicate well. 

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About Hearing Loss and Hearing Disorders

Our hearing loss specialists diagnose and treat all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe. Conditions include:

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Chronic or recurrent ear infections may be treated with antibiotics or allergy medications to help prevent long-term or permanent hearing loss.

If you are suffering from sudden-onset sensorineural hearing loss (damage to the hearing nerve from diseases or other causes), steroids may provide significant improvement by relieving the inflammation that frequently triggers the hearing loss. The medication is usually given orally but may be injected into the middle ear during an office visit.

Hearing Aids and Assistive Listening Devices
We offer a wide selection of the most advanced hearing aid technology, including digital hearing aids with multiple memories, noise reduction, directional microphones, feedback management systems, and speech enhancement. Wireless or Bluetooth capabilities let you link your hearing aids to your cell phone, television, or other devices. We also offer FM listening systems and information on personal amplifiers, telephone amplifiers, and alarm or warning devices.

Ear Tubes
In many cases, children and adults with chronic ear infections or buildup of fluid behind the eardrum can be most effectively treated with ear tubes. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia through tiny incisions in the eardrums. Most people return to normal activities the same day, with only minor discomfort. The tiny tubes naturally fall out on their own within nine to 12 months, and most patients do not need replacement tubes.

Ear Surgery
Our specialists are highly skilled at surgical treatment of ear disorders or injuries that affect hearing, including perforated eardrum, cholesteatoma (benign skin growths), and otosclerosis (bony growths).

Bone Conduction Hearing Aids, Surgical and Nonsurgical
If you have hearing loss that is unilateral (in one side) or in both ears due to outer or middle ear problems, we offer bone conduction hearing devices. These collect sound and transfer it through bone vibrations directly to the cochlea (the hearing organ in your inner ear).

Cochlear Implant Surgery
If you have severe to profound hearing loss that cannot be treated with hearing aids, our specialists in cochlear implant surgery provide the most advanced cochlear implant care available. We performed some of the first cochlear implant surgeries in the U.S., and our research has contributed to major advances that have resulted in superior care and excellent outcomes.

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Audiological Assessment
A comprehensive array of tests to evaluate middle-ear function and check your ability to hear low- and high-frequency sounds, to listen, and to understand speech. We use specialized techniques and tests to measure hearing in young children, including newborns.

CT and MRI Scans
CT or MRI scans are used to see images of the inner and middle ear structures and check for abnormalities that may be causing your hearing impairment. Findings from imaging studies help us diagnose the cause of your hearing loss and determine the most effective treatment for you.

Pure Tone Audiometry
Determines the presence or absence of hearing loss and also the type and severity of hearing loss. In this test, you'll be asked to place earphones on both of your ears and then press a button or raise your hand when you hear a sound.

Speech Audiometry
Measures how loud spoken words need to be in order for you to hear them and how clearly you can hear and understand words.

Immittance Tests
A series of tests that assess the function of the eardrum and middle ear structures. Immittance tests involve placing a plastic tip in the ear canal to measure changes in air pressure. These noninvasive tests can be completed in 10 minutes.

Auditory Brain Stem Response Testing
Measures the brain stem’s response to sounds that are presented to the ears. Assesses hearing when behavioral testing cannot be performed due to age, cooperation, or developmental level. During this noninvasive procedure, your audiologist will place electrodes on your forehead and ears. A sound will then be presented to both ears through earphones. The response generated by the auditory neural pathway is recorded and analyzed by the audiologist. May require general anesthesia or sedation when performed on children.

Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) Testing
Measures hair cell function of the inner ear to estimate hearing sensitivity. An emission is a sound generated within the normal cochlea in response to stimulation. During this test, a small plug is inserted in your ear and a series of tones or clicks are presented. The test takes place in a quiet environment and you must remain still and quiet throughout testing.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) Evaluation and Treatment
If your child (six years of age or older) is unable to understand and/or process speech or shows signs of CAPD, our audiologists and speech pathologists conduct a thorough interview, evaluation, and assessment to determine your child's strengths and weaknesses at home and at school.  We will explain the results, make recommendations, and work with you to ensure your child gets the help he or she needs.

Tinnitus Evaluation and Treatment
If your hearing loss includes tinnitus, you will undergo a thorough evaluation with one of our licensed audiologists. Our treatment recommendations will be based on your unique needs.

Why Choose Duke

Team of Specialists
Depending on your needs, your medical team may include otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat, or ENT, doctors), otologists/neurotologists (doctors specializing in diagnosis and treatment of complex ear disease and skull base tumors), audiologists, and vestibular specialists.

Clinical Trials Access
If you have severe hearing loss, you may be eligible to participate in our clinical trials of hearing aids and a hybrid cochlear implant-hearing aid, which may give you access to therapies before they are widely available.

Intraoperative Monitoring
When surgery is required, we use electrophysiologic measures to monitor the integrity of neural structures such as the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves during surgery. This helps your surgeon avoid or reduce the risk of surgical complications.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 01/11/2019