Millions of Americans suffer hearing loss resulting in immense social and economic consequences. Hearing loss is merely a symptom or sign and the evaluation and management of afflicted individuals requires a thorough knowledge of etiologic factors and understanding of the underlying pathophysiology. Hearing loss is either conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. It may be congenital or delayed in onset, genetic or nongenetic, and progressive or stable. Specific diagnosis should be sought in all cases with the objective being reversal of the hearing loss. Often definitive therapy is lacking yet prevention of progression, when possible; recognition of associated disorders, when present; compensation for disability, when applicable; epidemiologic study; genetic and psycho-social counseling; and habilitation and rehabilitation may still be initiated. A vigorous approach to the patient with hearing loss should be championed by the otolaryngologist.
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