What Did You Say?: Types of Hearing Loss

using hearing aidHearing loss is a common condition in America, but most people don’t know much about it. Outside of hearing aids, people know very little about the kinds of hearing loss, their causes, and the different ways to treat them. Educating people on the ways hearing loss can affect their lives is one of the primary reasons doctors study medicine. Regarding hearing loss, here are three common types of hearing loss affecting Americans today.

Sensorineural

The most common category of hearing loss is sensorineural. This occurs when hair cells within the inner ea ror cochleaare damaged. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, and surgery techniques cannot reverse its effects. The best way to alleviate this condition is through the use of hearing aids. However, even hearing aids don’t work 100% of the time. There are some cases where patients report hearing aids don’t have any effect.

In extreme cases, doctors would suggest a procedure called cochlear implantation. This is a procedure wherein a hearing aid-like device is surgically implanted somewhere behind the ear to provide sound in the place of the cochlea. The sound quality is limited and different from natural hearing, but patients will be able to understand speech and other environmental noises.

Sensorineural also exists in varying degrees of hearing loss severity. In some cases, the loss of hearing only extends to high pitch sounds, limiting their experience of sound clarity. This condition occurs in people who either are of advanced age, or have constant exposure to loud noises, or both. It’s extremely difficult for patients to notice any difference from their normal condition as sound clarity slowly degrades over time.

Conductive

Conductive hearing loss is the second most common category of hearing loss and more straightforward than the sensorineural condition. Conductive hearing loss occurs when an object blocks the sound pathways to the inner ear; in other words, someone needs their ears cleaned. The most common causes for conductive hearing loss are earwax, foreign objects, or infections.

Conductive hearing loss can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the circumstances of the condition. If normal ear structures were deformed by the object and can’t be corrected, hearing aids are the best solution. If the cause of the hearing loss was an infection, antibiotics or anti-fungal medications are the solution, depending on an audiologist’s prescription.

Mixed

This condition is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. There is no standard procedure in treating a case like this, and treatment must be advised and supervised by an audiologist.

Hearing treatment has come a long way from the ear trumpets of the early 30’s and 40’s. However, many areas for treatment still need exploring. Help yourself by reading up on the kinds of hearing loss and the best ways to prevent them. You’ll be able enjoy a quality of life some people never experience, and one that most people take for granted.