When to See a Doctor?
There are a few situations when you should make an appointment with a physician...
Noticeable and Unusual Change in Hearing: Hearing loss, if it happens, should normally occur very slowly over the years and equally on both sides (more info on average hearing results by age). Any hearing loss that occurs more rapidly and persists for more than a few days is not normal and can suggest an ear problem that can be fixed with medical attention.
Other Symptoms Present: If other ear-related symptoms are present along with hearing loss, it is recommended to see a doctor for further evaluation. Examples of other symptoms that may prompt a doctor's visit include tinnitus that is getting worse or louder in one ear, dizziness, noise sensitivity, sound distortion, and of course pain.
Hearing Test Shows Asymmetry: Everybody to various degrees suffers from "normal" hearing loss as we get older. What is NOT normal is if one ear is suffering from hearing loss at a faster rate compared to the other. This situation known as asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss, can be seen on a hearing test if hearing in one ear is significantly worse compared to the other... a standard definition would be at least a 20 points difference over 2 different frequencies. See example hearing test results below illustrating asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss. In about 10% of patients, this finding is due to a type of treatable brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma.