Sudden Hearing Loss – A Medical Emergency

Although I’ve discussed this topic before in my blog (click HERE to read), I feel it’s worth going over again.

Hearing loss usually occurs gradually over time so if you notice a sudden decline in hearing either instantly or over a few days it may be a sign of what is called “Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss”. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be irreparable without urgent medical care.

A sudden sensorineural hearing loss will often affect just one ear and it may be accompanied with tinnitus (a ringing/whooshing/roaring sound in the ear). It can also be accompanied by dizziness or a feeling of ‘fullness’ in the ear. If you experience these symptoms call an audiologist immediately. Most audiology clinics will try to get you in to see the audiologist the same day.

An audiologist will assess the degree and severity of the hearing loss as well as check for ear wax or infection. Diagnoses and access to treatment quickly after the onset of hearing loss is crucial to improving the chances of restoring your hearing, ideally within 48 hours or less.

We recommend everyone get a baseline hearing assessment and routine hearing checks to help understand and monitor their hearing health. It is important not to ignore any sudden changes in hearing (don’t just assume it’s wax) and seek urgent medical care if you experience any of the symptoms.


Let’s Talk About Earwax

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a combination of ear canal secretions, dead skin cells, dirt and dust that collects in our ear canals. Our ears use earwax to protect the body from bacteria, foreign debris, and microorganisms. Earwax is normal if it is not blocking the canal or impeding your hearing.

Our ears are self-cleaning

Our ear canal works like a conveyor belt to move the excess wax outward. Sometimes, if the wax gets too dry (as a result of changes in weather, living/working in a dusty environment, hormonal changes in the body) it can attach to the ear canal and stop migrating out. This can cause more wax to build up behind it and eventually plug up the ear.

Nothing smaller than your elbow in your ear!

Many of us have heard this handy piece of advice, but a good number of people choose to ignore it. “But Mahsa…” they say. “I love my Q-tips. I use Q-tips every morning! Please don’t take my Q-Tips away!!”

I’m not here to take anyone’s Q-Tips away, but my point is simply you can end up doing more harm than good with them.

Sometimes, yes, you will get some wax out of the ear. However, you risk pushing more wax back into the ear than you’re able to get out. This is counterproductive to the ear’s natural process of working out that wax. It also makes it much more difficult for me (and uncomfortable for you) to remove wax that has been pushed deeper into the ear. Also, constantly stripping the ear of its natural oils can result in the ear producing more wax, itchiness and irritation of the ear and ear infections. And finally, you can poke your eardrum out!

So what can I do myself at home?

The safest way to keep earwax from building up in your ears is to soften the wax with an oil, such as mineral oil or olive oil. Placing a few drops of oil into your ear at night will help soften dry wax so it can continue to migrate out of your ears naturally.

Please note: if you have a hole in your eardrum, a history of ear surgery, diabetes, PE tubes, are prone to ear infections or have a comprised immune system, consult with an audiologist or your family doctor before using at home remedies.

When should I seek professional help for earwax removal?

If you are prone to excess wax buildup in the ears or if you are experiencing a decrease in hearing, fullness in the ear, earache, ringing in the ear or a decrease in your hearing aid performance, make an appointment to see an audiologist. Your audiologist might recommend routine appointments to check for wax and remove it as necessary.

A word of caution: Don’t assume it’s wax!

Earwax is not the only cause of hearing loss. If you notice a sudden change in hearing  book an appointment to see an audiologist ASAP.  To read more about sudden changes in hearing and what to do click HERE.









TFH on Roncesvalles is Growing!


Toronto Family Hearing, Roncesvalles Location.

I’m pleased to announce that Toronto Family Hearing on Roncesvalles is growing — both in terms of size and staff!

Our newly renovated office has doubled in size, with a new reception area and a larger waiting area for patients (pictured above). You will still find the same friendly face behind the counter — Amelia our wonderful Patient Care Coordinator — but patients will now enter one door over.

The best news is that we didn’t just increase in size, but also staff. I’m pleased to announce that we have hired a second Audiologist. Click on our new “About Us” page to read about our new audiologist Melissa MacKay. We are so lucky to have her join our team and I know our patients will appreciate her caring and comprehensive approach to hearing healthcare.

Stop by to check out the renovations and meet Melissa anytime.




Toronto Family Hearing Opens Second Location

I find it hard to believe that Toronto Family Hearing opened over 5 years ago. Opening and running this clinic has been very fulfilling on both a personal and professional level. I never thought at the time that I would be able to expand to another location, but I’m very pleased to announce that Toronto Family Hearing has opened a second location in the Yonge and St.Clair neighbourhood.

Located in the Balmoral Medical Arts Building at 1366 Yonge Street in Toronto, the new location opened in February of 2019. The practice philosophy at this new clinic remains the same: a full service hearing clinic for patients of all ages.

Located steps from the St. Clair subway stop on Line 1 (Yonge-Universtiy-Spadina), this new location allows us to offer our new and existing patients a convenient location in central Toronto. Already a number of patients have taken advantage of this new location, and a new patient base in the neighbourhood is growing quickly.

New patients are always welcome. We encourage anyone who is considering hearing aids, or who is current hearing aid user, to call or stop by to see how Toronto Family Hearing can help you.

And remember, hearing health isn’t just about hearing aids. We offer a wide range of service at both clinics, including:

  • Comprehensive hearing assessments
  • Hearing aid evaluations, prescriptions, and dispensing
  • Hearing aid programming, reprogramming and upgrading.
  • Hearing aid cleaning and repairs
  • Custom ear plugs (including custom hearing protection, swim molds, sleep plugs and musician plugs)
  • Assistive listening devices (including personal amplifiers, FM systems and amplified telephones)
  • Wax management and removal
  • Tinnitus evaluations, management and counseling
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing
  • (C)APD testing (Central Auditory Processing Disorder Testing)
  • Provincial Licensing and Employment screening/testing and paperwork (e.g. RCMP 3184-e, Ontario Regulation 340/94)

Thank you for reading and we hope to see you in the new clinic soon.

Toronto Family Hearing
1366 Yonge St., Suite 409
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 3A7




A Sudden Change in Hearing

A sudden change in hearing is never normal and it must be addressed immediately. Any patients reporting a sudden hearing loss will typically be seen the same day. If we are not able to see you on the same day our clinic staff will make a recommendation for you to attend another facility as soon as possible. It is imperative that this situation be treated as a medical emergency because of the possible causes.

Sudden onset hearing loss can be caused by a range of factors, including wax build-up closing off the ear canal, a viral infection or, in the worst-case scenario, a brain tumor. A brain tumor is rare in these instances, but it is a possibility that should not be ignored.

When patients attend the clinic for hearing tests in these circumstances they will be evaluated for wax build up. If there is no wax build-up the hearing test proceeds as usual. If wax is presenting an issue, it can typically be removed with ease. If the hearing has returned to normal levels, there is no further cause for concern.

If upon conclusion of the hearing test a hearing loss is present, I typically advise patients that they should immediately follow up with a physician. The physician will assess the patient for further treatment, including a likely referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, steroid/anti-viral medications and/or an MRI.

As I said, sudden onset hearing loss is very serious and must be addressed immediately. Patients should not assume that wax build up is the cause in any case. Patients should consider sudden changes in hearing an emergency medical situation and address it accordingly.

Anyone experiencing a sudden change in hearing should call the clinic at (416) 792-9400 and request a same-day appointment. We will do everything possible to rearrange our schedule for you to attend immediately.


Holiday Hearing Aid Trials

With the holidays around the corner it’s likely you’ll be spending a lot more time with friends and family. It’s in these social settings where hearing aids can make a remarkable difference in your life. If you find you are struggling to follow a conversation around the dinner table or at a busy holiday party, hearing aids may be able to help you in a meaningful way. Around this time of year I strongly encourage my patients who are considering hearing aids to take them for a trial period.

Read More

What can an Audiologist do for you?

Dear readers,

Often taken for granted, the ability to hear plays a crucial role in the way we interact with each other and our surroundings. Yet, for more than one million Ontarians, hearing loss can have serious consequences, negatively affecting daily living. Untreated or mismanaged hearing loss has a profound impact at any age. For example, hearing loss can result in compromised speech, language, and social development in toddlers, poor academic performance in children, behavioural issues in teenagers, and isolation, reduced independence, diminished cognitive function, and depression in adults. Knowing where to turn for help is an important first step – your audiologist can help.

Read More

Hearing Aids – Make an Informed Decision

Dear readers,

If you find conversations hard to follow and frequently need to ask people to repeat themselves, you may have hearing loss that can be treated with a hearing aid. However, before any decisions can be made about whether you are a candidate for a hearing aid, it is crucial to undergo a comprehensive audiologic evaluation. Hearing aids, especially those developed in recent years, are very sophisticated electronic devices that amplify sound to compensate for an individual’s hearing loss. While hearing aids are not a cure, they often can minimize the consequences of hearing loss, and can lead to an enhanced quality of life. However, just as is the case with eyeglasses or medicine, if hearing aids are not properly prescribed, serious harm can result. This is why hearing aid prescription is controlled under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

Read More

May is Better Hearing Month – Protect your ears!

Dear Readers,

An estimated 3 million Canadians have hearing loss. One in three developed their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise.What’s worse: Noise-induced hearing loss is the only preventable cause of permanent hearing loss! Remember how your mom always told you to “take a sweater” to prevent catching a cold? Well, your audiologist will always tell you “wear your hearing protection” to prevent permanent hearing loss. We all know mom knows best, but why don’t we listen?

Read More

World Hearing Day 2016


Dear Readers,

For the past few years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been raising awareness for hearing care through their annual advocacy event: World Hearing Day. Last year, their theme was “Make Listening Safe”. Last March, we shared with you some of the posters, infographics and learning tools the WHO published on their website aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of excessive noise and preventing noise-induced hearing loss.

A startling statistic shared by the WHO suggests over 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss. As a result, they are promoting the following as ways to make listening safe:

1- Keep the volume down

2- Limit time spent engaged in noisy activities

3- Heed the warning sings of hearing loss

4- Monitor safe listening levels through the use of smartphone apps

5- Get regular hearing check-ups Read More