Hearing loss occurs when an individual’s ability to hear is reduced. Patients with hearing loss may experience varying levels of difficulty in hearing speech and interpreting other sounds. There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, mixed, and sensorineural. Let’s find out more about them.
A conductive hearing loss indicates that a patient’s ears cannot conduct sound into the inner ear, due to blockage. Our ear is made up of three parts – the inner, the middle, and the outer ear. If a patient is diagnosed with conductive hearing loss, sound cannot travel through the middle and the outer ear. Soft sounds may not be picked up, and louder sounds may be muddy or muffled. Some of the common causes of conductive hearing loss include:
If the hair cells in your inner ear or nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain become damaged, they may cause sensorineural hearing loss. Most sensorineural hearing loss causes are age-related. Many patients with this type of hearing loss complain that they can hear speech but cannot understand it. If background noise is present, it can get increasingly frustrating. There are two types of sensorineural hearing loss: acquired and congenital sensorineural hearing loss.
Acquired sensorineural hearing loss tends to occur after birth. Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions that affects one in three Americans, who are between the ages of 65 and 74. Next, is the exposure to loud noises that are louder than 85 decibels. If an individual is exposed to noises of this volume over an extended period of time, he or she is at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). A loud explosion is also another known culprit that causes NIHL.
Congenital sensorineural hearing loss can occur during the stages of pregnancy. Rubella (or other diseases that the mother passes to the child in the womb), genetics, lack of oxygen during birth, maternal diabetes, and prematurity are some of the causes of this type of hearing loss.
Lastly, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss indicates that damage exists in the inner ear and the middle or outer ear. Mixed hearing loss ranges in severity from mild to profound. Patients with this type of hearing loss mention that incoming sounds are often soft and difficult to understand.
Conductive damage and sensorineural damage may be caused by the normal aging process, consuming certain medications, overexposure to loud noises, and genetic factors. Other possible causes include head injuries, tumors, ear infections, diseases, and birth defects.
Research has shown that over 90 percent of patients suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. In most cases, sound amplification can solve their hearing problems. Hearing aids are one of the recommended treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss and they have been proven to be effective in nearly every case. It is pertinent that you work with an audiologist to pinpoint your type of hearing loss and determine which type of hearing aid can help you.