Case 3 – Hearing Difficulty

You are seeing Mr. Syed, a 73 year old man, in your outpatient clinic. He says that his family members have told him that they have a difficult time communicating with him because he has poor hearing. Take a focused history, and perform the pertinent physical examination maneuvers.


  • Inquires whether patient is aware of hearing loss (he agrees)
  • Onset of hearing difficulty
  • Settings in which difficulty is worst (noisy crowds)
  • Whether hearing difficulty is worse with specific frequency (patient unsure)
  • Otalgia
  • Exudation from ear, including pus and blood (none)
  • Phonophobia
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo
  • Associated neurologic deficits elsewhere in the body
  • Vision loss
  • Headache
  • Use of ear plugs
  • Trauma to the ear, including digital
  • Past history of cerumen
  • Use of any hearing aids
  • Past history of hearing difficulty
  • Past exposure to noise (including occupational history)

Physical Examination


  • Comments on the gross appearance of both ears
  • Uses otoscope to examine the auditory canal, commenting on its appearance
  • Examines tympanic membrane and comments on its appearance

Special Tests

  • Performs the Rinne Test bilaterally
  • Performs the Weber Test
  • Interprets the results of these two tests
  • Performs whisper test bilaterally
Case 3 – Hearing Difficulty