If you find it hard to converse in a busy restaurant, the problem could be your hearing. Nearly 10 percent of Americans have trouble with their hearing, but a surprising number aren’t doing anything about it. What are the latest developments in treating hearing difficulties and tinnitus?

Guest: Charles Limb, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology in the Department of Head & Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD; Staff Physician and Research Fellow at the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders in the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; also on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. DE

    My husband suffered from dizziness which was diagnosed as benign postional vertigo.
    The dizziness was becoming debilitating. Our physician had him try “Lipo-Flavinoid” which is an ear health vitamin formulae. It contains vitamin C some B vitamins, calcium , choline, bioflavinoids and inositol.
    Lipo-Flavinoid worked pretty dramatically for him. It has been several years and he is still taking the formulae and has almost no trouble with the vertigo.

  2. MBO

    I wanted to add a comment about prednizone being prescribed for viral ear infections. Take seriously one of the side effects of this drug. A friend was given this for her hearing loss due to this type of infection and she did, indeed, have a pychotic episode that resulted in hospitalization. It should be prescribed only with thorough knowledge of patient’s background and with advice about side effect symptoms.

  3. cln

    I have severe disabling tinnitus. People do not understand how life can be disrupted by this, and masking and other solutions offered so far have done no good for me.
    My referrals to teaching hospital 200 miles away brought more appts., but no relief. Some hours, some days are better than others. I heard on your show about new remedies perhaps coming out in near future. While hearing topics in general are worthy of a show, tinnitus sufferers would appreciate a show on this topic alone. Thanks.

  4. Barbara

    I have had tinnitus and high-frequency hearing loss in my left ear for several years now. Since I got a high-frequency hearing aid about a year ago, my symptoms have become less. However, I notice that once a month right before I get my period, the ringing in my left ear will intensify and will usually be accompanied by a migraine headache on the left side of my head that lasts for about 72 hours. My vision is also a bit poorer on the left than the right. Could this all be related? Are the migraines damaging the nerves one the left side of my head–hearing and vision? I have seen a doctor about it and had an MRI. Nothing visible is wrong. Some months the ringing in the ears is also accompanied by vertigo. The vertigo was diagnosed as benign positional vertigo. Is there anything I can do to ease the symptoms? Taking medication to ease the headache seems to help with the vertigo a bit. Duramamine seems to help with the nausea.
    People’s Pharmacy Answer re: vertigo:
    Do ask an otolaryngologist about the Epley maneuver for your vertigo. It can be quite helpful.

  5. Alice w.

    I am interested in finding out about the head positions that are used to reposition the crystals in the ears for positional vertigo.
    For the last week or so I have experienced this vertigo upon getting up from bed.

  6. Amanda

    I’m a 29-year-old professional violinist, and I’ve had ringing in my ears after long violin-practice sessions since I was a teenager. In the last 4 or five years, I’ve been starting to hear distortion or “whooshing” sounds sometimes while I’m playing the violin. I went to an ear-nose-and-throat doctor and had my hearing checked, which actually showed very little damage, and they couldn’t figure out what was causing this “whooshing” sound that I hear while I’m playing the violin. They even scanned my head and found nothing wrong. What could possibly be the cause of this?

  7. MB

    I get spells of imbalance when I walk in large spaces, not the sitting or laying vertigo…. my health is good. I recently had hearing checked and have extesive loss on the left and have fluid build-up in the inner ears…. I just had tubes put in… so far I am still off balance when walking…. this is so hard for me… any suggestions…. or concerns for this condition would be appreciated….

  8. MFG

    I was interested to hear the story on hearing loss and was interested in larning the correct name for the “selective noise” earplugs. It might be time!

  9. L.E.

    I just started with dizziness
    and now they think Meniere’s.
    I cant seem to take medicine
    without getting sick. Is
    there any surgery that
    could help with this fluid
    buildup in my ear?

  10. BJ

    I am 49 years old and have been taking aerobics for over 24 years. The Body Step aerobics instructor blasts the sound system to the point it hurts my ears. To accommodate, I move to a side of the room away from the direction of the speakers. If I remember, I also bring along those soft disposable ear plugs to wear. I can hear the music and the instructor just fine with the ear plugs. However, I also can hear myself breathe and feel my heart pumping when the ear plugs are in tightly — which I find annoying.
    Only one other person in the class has expressed to me any dissatisfaction with the high sound level. In fact, there have been times when I thought it was already way too loud and a class participant will indicate to the instructor to turn up the volume even louder — which she always does. I have expressed my concerns to the administration, and they say the volume is up to the instructor. I have said I don’t think it is good for us, but they don’t respond.
    Would buying custom-made ear plugs like you were discussing earlier in the program help me? Would the custom ear plugs prevent me from hearing my own breathing and heart beating? I think the loud music during classes is a health hazard that can be avoided by setting a volume limit policy. What can I provide to the fitness club administration to encourage them to set a sound decibel limit?
    FYI, last August, I had my hearing tested professionally at an otolaryngologist’s office and he said I was hearing above normal. I also have a constant buzzing or ringing in my ears that I only hear when it is really quiet. The doctor told me that was a common complaint and there is nothing that can be done for it. If you can think of anything I can do for the buzzing, please let me know.

  11. Kenneth L R.

    I am a white male 62 years of age and have had tinnitus for about 2 years. For the first 9 months I had no relief with constant ringing 24 hours a day. Since then I began taking zanax and campral (drug for recovering alcoholics. My ringing is constant any time I am asleep but after taking the zanax and campral,the hearing goes away about half the time during the time I am awake. Once it goes away it does not come back until I go to sleep. Just wonted you to know some medications do help and wondered if you could draw any conclusions from my the fact that my tinnitus comes any time I am asleep and does go away sometimes with medication.

  12. John PP D.

    I wore two hearing aids. My ear doctor said to take them off, so I did. Being 95% Deaf I use all the technology I can find. Recently I purchased two phones to use; they have a strong decible rating. The Center For The Deaf and Hard of hearing in West Allis was very helpful.
    I also use American Sign Language to communicate.

  13. Lydia

    I have a hearing loss that has been diagnosed as a nerve issue, not an inner/middle ear thing. Everything in my ear is healthy, but the nerve that they test on the base of the skull behind the ear is where the loss is.
    I was told by the hearing specialists I’ve seen that I have a “cookie bite” pattern of loss because I can hear very high and low frequencies, but not those in the middle. So far closed captioning on the TV and volume control on phones makes it manageable. But when someone speaks softly or whispers even right next to me, I have a really hard time hearing them.
    Though it’s about a 35% loss, I haven’t gotten hearing aids because I can’t afford them. But should I get to the point where it’s impossible to work without them, are hearing aids for this kind of loss different than for middle ear damage? And how do hearing aids filter out extraneous noise, like in a restaurant or if you’re chewing food while someone is talking?

  14. Rose

    Dear Joe: Eight years ago I came down with Tinnitus and was very lucky to go to tinnitus retraining by an audiologist who was trained by Pawel Jastreboff (he is in Atlanta now). Was at the University of Maryland.
    After spending a year doing the therapy, I now have tinnitus twice a week instead of 24/7, and I can live with this because I know it will be gone in the morning.
    Go to Tinnitus Retraining on the web.. Rose

  15. C.A

    One disorder I rarely hear of that I have been afflicted by myself is hyperacusis. I have twice been on disability for this condition, in which even the sound of removing a tissue from a box was too loud for me.
    It’s important for me to communicate that wearing earplugs (long term) makes this condition worse. the only rehabilitation I have found was slowly reintroducing myself to noise and combining it with the use of white noise therapy from tinnitus maskers. Are there also medications that can assist recovery?

  16. BG

    Although I am a very young looking and acting 60 year old, I recognized my hearing loss about 5 years ago. Even though I wear my hair super short — ears showing — I have never worried about my hearing aids showing (and they do). They have improved my enjoyment of almost every part of life and I feel so fortunate. Vanity should not stand in anyone’s way of hearing!

  17. KRB

    After my wife complained of the volume of our TV, radio, etc. I had good quality bilateral hearing aids fitted. Now she complains she cannot hear the TV.

  18. Tom S

    While nice, snow crunching under foot and birds chirping in the trees are not what I missed with my hearing loss. Even after I bought the best “in the canal” aids (which proved unsatisfactory because of the constant feedback) and then the best “behind the ear” aids (at least the feedback is gone), and after I could hear the chirping birds, I still cannot UNDERSTAND the speech that I now can hear satisfactorily. Both speech pathologists I bought the hearing aids from said nothing (oh, maybe a $12,000 “How to Listen” series of sessions given in the city) will help me understand my wife’s sentences!

  19. Shari K.

    I wanted to commend you for considering hearing loss as an important topic on your radio show. With over 30 million Americans with some degree of hearing loss, it’s a very important to give exposure to such a life-altering disability.
    However, I am saddened that this was on the “radio” and not in print on your website. The very people who are affected by hearing loss, and would benefit most from the show, were likely excluded as listeners.
    Those of us with a hearing loss depend a great deal on the written word. From websites to books to closed captioning on t.v. and movies.
    Would you consider including the text version of any radio show that does indeed talk about hearing loss?
    Of course, those with hearing loss also have the usual assortment of other ailments that they may love to learn about too.
    Thank you for your consideration for those who rely on text.
    (And Jim, way to go! Hope you love your new hearing aids more and more every day!)

  20. Clinton D.

    The reason that many people don’t get hearing aids is the unreasonable cost of buying them. It is impossible for me to believe why I can buy a color television set for $200 and hearing aids can cost as much as $2,500 or more.

  21. Hugh C.

    For approximately five years, I have had gradual hearing loss in my right ear. It is not that I can’t hear, it is that sounds and voices are garbled and unintelligible and I habitually turn my head to my left ear to understand voices. After three expensive MRIs of the area and yearly visits to the ear specialist, the opinion is that it is apparently an uncorrectable neurological problem and any hearing aid would only enhance to unintelligible sounds; however, I remain troubled by garbled hearing, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and a ringing sensation when I jerk my head. Fortunately hearing in my left ear is fine.

  22. Jim A.

    For years. friends told me I had a hearing problem. I knew it, but was too vain to do anything about it. I was hiking with a group of people a few years ago, and they all stopped to listen to a certain bird singing. I couldn’t hear a thing. Still, I was too vain to think about hearing aids and the perceived stigma that went with them. Two weeks ago, I finally went for a hearing test at the urging of my partner. As was expected, I have severe hearing loss for high pitches in both ears. When I went back to be fitted with my devices, I still didn’t want them. Now I have been wearing them for 2 weeks, and wouldn’t think about leaving home without them… and they are virtually invisible. No one knows I have them unless I tell them!

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.