CC: My wife seems to be having trouble hearing me when I talk. She is turning the TV up really loud.
HPI: Mary is an 88-year-old African American (AA) female married for 50 years to Albert. Albert complains that Mary cannot hear or hears but does not understand (especially in a group); turns up radio or television louder to hear (also noted by family, friends, and neighbors); Mary complains of tinnitus; and she feels like people are “mumbling.”
PMH: Mary takes ramipril for hypertension (HTN), a baby aspirin for cardio protection, and a statin for hypercholesterolemia.
Vital signs are 120/88 P: 88 P02: 96% WT: 156 HT: 5’6″
ROS: Ask if Mary has had any exposure to ototoxic drugs or other otic damage in the past. Describe at least three.
PE: What examinations will you perform on the ear? Describe the areas of the ear you will evaluate and what you will expect to find.
You determine that Mary has a hearing deficit and tinnitus. What differential diagnoses do you want to consider? Describe at least three.
What will your treatment plan for this patient be?
What other recommendations will you make (i.e., screening)?
What referrals will you make?
Education: Name at least two things you will educate your patient about regarding their hearing.
Choose the ROS, PE, and DD and final diagnosis for this patient, and then write up your focused SOAP note
Expert Answer and Explanation
Focused SOAP Note
MM, 88, Female, African American
CC: “My wife has trouble hearing. She turns up the TV very loud when watching.”
HPI: MM is an 88-year-old African American (AA) female who was brought to the clinic for a hearing problem. The patient’s husband complains that MM does not hear him when he talks to her and turns the TV up so loud when watching. Associated symptoms include a feeling of people “mumbling” and tinnitus. She describes tinnitus as buzzing. Tinnitus worsens at bedtime. The patient has not stated the onset of trouble hearing. She has not reported any pain in the ear.
Current Medications: She has a statin for hypercholesterolemia, baby aspirin for cardioprotection, and ramipril for hypertension (HTN).
Allergies: No environmental, food, or medication allergies.
PMHx: She received the Tdap vaccine 7 years ago. She received a PCV15 shot six months ago. She also received the covid-19 vaccine. No past major surgery. He has hypertension.
Soc and Substance Hx: She is a retired banker. Denies using alcohol, tobacco, or any other substance abuse. She uses seat belts when in a car. She does not drive. She does not smoke. She has a strong support system comprising of her husband and children. She used to love gun shooting sport.
Fam Hx: Her mother had hypertension and died aged 68 from ovarian cancer. Her Father died when she was young from a car accident. Her eldest son has type diabetes and hypertension. My maternal grandfather died of throat cancer and her paternal grandmother died of type two diabetes.
Surgical Hx: No prior surgical procedures.
Mental Hx: No history of self-harm practices. She was diagnosed with depression when she was 65.
Violence Hx: No concerns about violence at home. No history of violence.
Reproductive Hx: She is in a menopause state. Not pregnant and do not use contraceptives. She is not sexually active.
- GENERAL: No chills, fever, fatigue, or weight loss.
- HEENT: Eyes: No visual loss, double vision, or blurred vision. Ears, Nose, Throat: Complains of hearing loss. No congestion, sneezing, runny nose, or sore throat.
- SKIN: No rash or itching.
- CARDIOVASCULAR: No chest discomfort, pain, or pressure.
- RESPIRATORY: No sputum, shortness of breath, or cough.
- GASTROINTESTINAL: No vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, or nausea.
- GENITOURINARY: No burning on urination.
- NEUROLOGICAL: No ataxia, headache, or dizziness.
- MUSCULOSKELETAL: No joint or muscle pain and stiffness.
- HEMATOLOGIC: No anemia.
- LYMPHATICS: No enlarged nodes.
- ENDOCRINOLOGIC: No polydipsia or reports of sweating, cold or heat intolerance.
- REPRODUCTIVE: Not sexually active.
- ALLERGIES: No history of, hives, asthma, rhinitis, or eczema.
- Vital signs: BP 120/88, P02: 96%, P 88, WT: 156 HT: 5’6”
- General: The patient appears her stated age. She is oriented to place, time, and people. She is well-groomed and hygienic. She answers questions correctly.
- Head: No scars or any abnormal features. The skull is of normal shape and size.
- Ears: Outer ear intact. No inflammation in the ear. No excess earwax. No injury to the inner ear. No abnormal ear bone growth. No spams in inner ear muscles. Cardiovascular: No chest cracks. Chest edema. Regular heartbeats or rates.
- Respiratory: No breathing distress. No fluids in the lungs. No wheezes.
- Audiometer test: The patient will wear earphones and be asked to hear words and sounds directed to each ear to find the quietest sound the patient can hear (van Beeck Calkoen et al., 2019). It is done by an audiologist.
- Tuning fork test: Kelly et al. (2018) noted that a tuning fork test can help a doctor detect hearing loss. The test can be used to identify where ear damage has occurred.
- Whisper test: A whisper test can be used by a doctor to evaluate patients’ ears for hearing. It identifies how well a patient hears and responds to words spoken at various volumes (O’Donovan et al., 2019).
- Blood test: Blood can be used to test for ear infections.
- Presbycusis: Presbycusis is the primary diagnosis for this case. Presbycusis is a hearing loss that occurs gradually as one ages (Wang & Puel, 2020). Symptoms of presbycusis include withdrawal from conversations, trouble hearing conversations, muffling sounds, difficulty understanding words and turning up the volume of radio or television (Wang & Puel, 2020). The patient experiences most of the symptoms making the presbycusis a primary diagnosis. The patient’s age also supports the diagnosis.
- Ear infection: Ear infection has been included in the diagnosis because it causes hearing loss and tinnitus (Venekamp et al., 2020). However, it has been ruled out because a physical exam shows no inflammation of the outer or inner ears.
- Muscle spasms in the inner ear: Muscle spasms can also result in hearing loss and tinnitus (Shi et al., 2019). This disorder can be ruled out because the physical exam showed no spams in the inner ear muscles.
Diagnostic studies that will be obtained include audiometer, blood tests for infections, and tuning fork test. The patient will be referred to an audiologist for an audiometer test. The patient will be provided with hearing aids to help improve her hearing (Wang & Puel, 2020). The patient will also be given special fluid-filled ear muffs to prevent further hearing loss and reduce tinnitus.
The patient’s hearing problem might be caused by her age. Thus, hearing aids can help her improve her hearing and reduce tinnitus. She should avoid loud sounds to prevent further ear problems.
Kelly, E. A., Li, B., & Adams, M. E. (2018). Diagnostic accuracy of tuning fork tests for hearing loss: A systematic review. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 159(2), 220-230. https://doi.org/10.1177/0194599818770405
O’Donovan, J., Verkerk, M., Winters, N., Chadha, S., & Bhutta, M. F. (2019). The role of community health workers in addressing the global burden of ear disease and hearing loss: A systematic scoping review of the literature. BMJ Global Health, 4(2), e001141. https://gh.bmj.com/content/4/2/e001141.abstract
Shi, Y., Li, Y., Gong, Y., Chen, B., & Chen, J. (2019). Cochlear implants for patients with inner ear malformation: experience in a cohort of 877 surgeries. Clinical Otolaryngology, 44(4), 702-706. https://doi.org/10.1111/coa.13360
van Beeck Calkoen, E. A., Engel, M. S. D., van de Kamp, J. M., Yntema, H. G., Goverts, S. T., Mulder, M. F., & Hensen, E. F. (2019). The etiological evaluation of sensorineural hearing loss in children. European Journal Of Pediatrics, 178(8), 1195-1205. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00431-019-03379-8
Venekamp, R. P., Schilder, A. G., van den Heuvel, M., & Hay, A. D. (2020). Acute middle ear infection (acute otitis media) in children. Bmj, 371. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4238
Wang, J., & Puel, J. L. (2020). Presbycusis: An update on cochlear mechanisms and therapies. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(1), 218. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9010218
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