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So much of life depends on the five senses. Hearing loss can result in a significant decrease in quality of life, and people in Pennsylvania who suffer from it may benefit from seeking a diagnosis and treatment or compensation to improve their circumstances.

According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, an ear, nose and throat specialist or an audiologist is qualified to perform examinations and hearing tests to provide a diagnosis. The evaluation is likely to involve these four steps:

  1. Health, family history and hearing history assessment: There are a number of factors that raise the risk of hearing loss. Health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are linked to hearing loss, and certain medications may also affect a person’s ability to hear. Noise exposure and family history also may lead to hearing loss.
  2. Exam: The specialist will perform an exam using tools such as an otoscope to visually inspect the ear canal and its structures. Air pressure can reveal whether the eardrum and the middle ear bones are properly flexible.
  3. Hearing test: In order to determine the level of hearing loss, the specialist provides the patient with headphones and then sends tones through them of different pitch and loudness. The patient then indicates when he or she can hear the sounds.
  4. Speech test: The patient listens to spoken words at different sound levels and repeats them.

Because hearing loss can damage a person’s ability to maintain gainful employment, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The SSA will need the results of the tests and the diagnosis in order to assess whether it is a qualifying condition.