The Importance Of Routine HSE Standard Hearing Tests

The Importance Of Routine HSE Standard Hearing Tests

Recently, a 45 year old male attended our new clinic for a routine hearing test as the nature of his work meant he worked in a noisy environment regularly, you don’t need to be an expert to know this can be very harmful. After we had completed the tests he was found to have one sided hearing loss (unilateral is the technical term for this) which was more than 40 dBa (A-weighted decibels – which is a measure of relative loudness) difference between the left and right ear when compared to his previous test.

One sided hearing loss is not normally a work related or noise induced condition, but more often than not an underlying medical problem. The sort of problems could be measles, malaria, tuberculosis or a host of other different issues. It is not always the condition that is the problem, but sometimes the medication used to treat it. He did tell me at the time that he had ear ache in the past, which can be a cause for concern.

We followed standard HSE protocol and referred him to his GP who gave him a course of antibiotics. During my consultation, we had not seen any evidence of infection so we called him back after 2 weeks for further tests to ensure his hearing was improving. Unfortunately there was no improvement so we referred him back to the GP with advice that he should have an urgent referral to an ENT department (Ear Nose & Throat specialists).

He attended an ENT appointment 2 weeks later and upon further examination was found to have a tumour on the back of his tongue that had tracked up and was stimulating the auditory nerve, hence the ear ache he had mentioned previously and loss of hearing.

This problem would have gone unnoticed without routine HSE standard hearing tests, and could have led to a much worse condition. Luckily he has now started a course of Chemotherapy and will soon progress onto radiotherapy followed by surgery to rectify the problem.

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