​Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment is a gradual loss in the ability to hear which occurs as you age. It can also occur in children, with some children suffering from hearing impairment congenitally from birth, or some of them acquiring it during their childhood.

For adults, aging and prolonged exposure to loud noise are the most common reason for hearing loss. The frequency of occurrence of hearing impairment increases in people aged 65 and above. Other ear disorders may also cause temporary hearing loss, such as ear blockage due to wax or an ear infection, but the hearing loss due to these causes can be reversed if timely professional treatment has been sought. In children, congenital hearing loss, i.e. being born with hearing loss could be hereditary or may develop during pregnancy, such as due to infection with rubella. Hearing impairment that is acquired during childhood may occur due to recurrent ear infections or other infectious diseases, such as meningitis.

In most cases, hearing loss cannot be reversed, especially in case of damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve – sensorineural hearing loss.
However, if it is a symptom of another disorder and occurs because sound can’t travel through the ear because of earwax or fluid build-up or a punctured eardrum, prompt treatment with medicine or surgery may help restore your hearing ability – conducive hearing loss.

It is estimated that half of hearing impairment is preventable through proper care. Consistent and recommended immunization of children, proper care during pregnancy and avoiding loud noise can help prevent hearing impairment in children. 

Exposure to loud noises due to the nature of one’s work, for example for factory workers, entertainment industry professionals, construction workers, etc. must also be controlled with the help of hearing protective gear, such as ear muffs and ear plugs designed to  reduce sound intensity.

Hearing loss may occur in one or both ears and can vary from mild hearing impairment to deafness with little to no hearing. The general symptoms of hearing loss for adults include:

  • Inability to hear faint sounds.

  • Difficulty understanding conversation, especially around high background noise, such as in a crowd.

  • Frequently asking others to repeat what they said or speak loudly.

  • Listening to the radio or watching television at a high volume.

  • Inability to tell which direction a sound is coming from.

  • Feeling distressed and frustrated because of having to concentrate while listening.

  • Pain or pressure in the ears in some cases.

For children in particular, the following are additional symptoms to watch out for:

  • Inability to respond to loud sounds.

  • Not being able to turn towards a source of sound for babies under 4 months of age.

  • Delayed speech and language development in young children because of inability to hear words and conversation properly.

  • Not being able to respond when called out to.

  • Talking very loudly.

Signs and symptoms of hearing impairment do not appear suddenly and develop and advance gradually. In fact, some people may take years to seek medical advice since the first time hearing loss appear. If you are able to recognize some of these early signs of hearing impairment, do seek professional consultation with an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist at the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.​

If you suspect that you have any of the signs of hearing impairment discussed above, you must talk to your doctor. You must particularly watch out for the symptoms in babies in children as they cannot communicate their problems clearly.

If a loss in hearing is interfering with your ability to carry out normal routine activities, and you seem to have trouble having conversations or feel a hearing loss in one or both ears, you should seek immediate medical advice.​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

The best way to diagnose hearing impairment is a hearing test. Before that, the doctor will take your or your child’s individual case history, asking questions in context to the hearing loss. Particular note will be taken of your concerns which prompted the visit, information related to birth and pregnancy for children, if there is a family history of hearing impairment, if there is a medical history of recurrent ear infections and questions related to the work environment or the home environment to check for exposure to loud sounds.

Besides this, your doctor will also carry out a physical examination of your ear with the help of an otoscope – a special instrument with light and magnifying glass to help see the inside of the ear, including the ear canal, ear drum and the middle ear. This will help the doctor look for signs of pus-like discharge, inflammation or an infection, in which case test of fluid inside the ear may also be requested.

Subsequently, a hearing test will be conducted to assess the extent of hearing loss suffered by you.

Aga Khan University Hospital offers multidisciplinary healthcare under one roof, with high quality services to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of your disorder. Our highly committed staff works tirelessly to ensure that you receive the top quality healthcare services throughout to provide relief from your symptoms.​

The treatment plan advised for you will depend on your individual symptoms, the specific cause and extent of the hearing impairment. If the hearing impairment is reversible, such as by removal of ear wax or treatment of an ear infection, the appropriate treatment option will be implemented, such as the use of antibiotic or manual removal or washing out of ear wax. In some cases, surgery may be suggested to help fix the cause of hearing impairment.

For irreversible hearing loss, measures can be taken to improve your hearing ability. Hearing aid devices can be given to help enhance sounds, making it easier to hear. In some cases, implants inside the ear may be an option, to make up for damaged parts of the ear.

For a congenital hearing problem in a child, early intervention and treatment is necessary to prevent developmental and social problems associated with hearing impairment. You must not ignore the early signs of hearing impairment and seek immediate medical advice from the team of highly qualified ENT specialists at The Aga Khan University Hospital. ​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage. ​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.


The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.