Adult Hearing Loss: Applying the Five Models of Osteopathic Medicine to Diagnose and Treat
Hearing loss is a common complaint with extensive cognitive, physical, emotional, social and financial implications. Many adults are expected to present with varying degrees of hearing loss by the age of 60 to 69 years old that can be classified according to the cause into conductive, sensorineural and mixed. There can be associated symptoms, like tinnitus, vertigo and otalgia and/or abnormal behaviors such as social withdrawal and difficulty with interpersonal communication. Somatic dysfunctions can accompany hearing troubles and range from fluid problems such as fluids accumulation in the middle ear, lymphatic congestion of the head and neck, and structural dysfunctions in the eustachian tube, neck musculature, thoracic spine, ribs and the cranial rhythmic impulse in addition to other neurologic dysfunctions such as sympathetic hyperactivity and viscerosomatic changes. In this review, we provide several suggestions that may assist the osteopathic family physician in identifying the various causes behind the hearing loss, especially life-threatening or quality-of-life limiting causes. We will also provide an effective treatment addressing the cause of the hearing loss presentation and associated somatic dysfunctions, alone or in conjunction with other appropriately trained health care providers, based on the understanding of the five models of osteopathic medicine and how they can apply toward the anatomical and physiological components of adult hearing loss.