Before understanding what mixed hearing loss is, let us go back to the three main types of hearing loss. First is conductive hearing loss. It occurs when there are problems with the middle ear, ear drum, or ear canal. The second type of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by issues with the ear nerves and inner ear. The last type of hearing loss is mixed hearing loss, which, as the name implies, is a combination of the first two types of hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss is an indication that there may be medical complications affecting the outer ear, middle ear, and the inner ear. This can affect both left and right ears. Possible causes include aging, which is also a cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Keeping in mind that with other factors such as being exposed to loud noises, taking certain medications, and genetic predisposition, age can lead to mixed hearing loss. Other causes include head injuries, tumors, diseases, infections, and birth defects.
The signs that one is suffering from mixed hearing loss can vary depending on the gravity of the situation. Some people may show signs such as complaining about hearing muffled noises all the time. In others, the signs can be more alarming. For example, people with mixed hearing loss will often request the other party what they were saying. Others will also show signs of fatigue, which can be brought about by hearing difficulties. In worst cases, some individuals will choose to detach themselves from special occasions. This happens because they do not hear clearly when in noisy areas.
There are also specific signs that the patient shows depending on whether the mixed hearing loss is related more to sensorineural or conductive hearing losses. When the inner ear has been gravely affected by the situation, which means that it is more sensorineural-related, the patient may show signs of having trouble with understanding what others are saying. Even when you raise your voice while talking to the person, you will notice that he or she seems to not be hearing your words clearly. On the other hand, mixed hearing loss resulting from a damaged outer ear is most likely conductive-related. However, it does not affect speech. The patient, in this case, will rather require you to speak louder than normal.
Since mixed hearing loss is a mixture of the two other types of hearing loss, it is recommended that you consider these tips when it comes to treatment. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, you must treat conductive hearing loss first before you can treat sensorineural hearing loss. It is also recommended that treatment should focus on the type of hearing loss that is more problematic than the other. This means that if the hearing loss is more sensorineural in nature, you need to pay attention to that part of the problem first.
Conductive and sensorineural hearing loss is often treated using drug therapy, corticosteroids, and antibiotics. In the case of mixed hearing loss, treatment may include more complex procedures like medical surgery. Some patients will also need to use hearing aids, while others will be recommended to undergo a cochlear implant procedure.
Visiting an audiologist helps a lot if you or someone you love is suffering from hearing loss, whether conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. The audiologist can determine underlying causes of the hearing loss and recommend the ideal treatment.