3 Types of Hearing Loss: Do You Know the Difference?
Hearing loss is one of the most misunderstood conditions, both by laypeople and medical professionals. The causes of hearing loss aren’t always possible to pinpoint. Most people don’t even realize that hearing loss is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis.
Hearing loss can affect different structures in the ear, resulting in different causes and treatments. Hearing loss is rarely reversible and hearing aids are the most powerful solution for hearing loss.
When a person with normal hearing is told that someone else has hearing loss, their first instinct usually is to talk louder. This common misconception is caused by a general lack of knowledge regarding hearing loss.
Depending on the severity and type of hearing loss, simply talking louder often only makes the words spoken more difficult to understand. If you or someone in your family suffers from hearing loss, knowing the types can help you communicate and connect.
Hearing Loss is Not Uniform
The 3 Recognized Types of Hearing Loss
The sound receptors located in the ear are called hair cells. These tiny cells can be damaged from exposure to loud noises, certain medications and old age. Once sensorineural hearing loss occurs, it is permanent. However, hearing aids can help, depending on the extent of the damage.
Mixed hearing loss may be treated with surgery and hearing aids or a variety of treatment options.
As with any medical condition, hearing loss comes in many different forms. Some people have difficulty hearing low-pitched sounds. For others, high-pitched sounds are muffled instead of piercing.
The type of hearing loss is an important diagnostic tool medical professionals use for choosing treatment. The types of hearing loss are:
1.Conductive hearing loss. The inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear are all parts of your anatomy that affect hearing. If sound can’t pass through the middle or outer ear, the result is diminished hearing or hearing loss.
Typically, conductive hearing loss is caused by something obstructing the middle and outer ear. One of the most common causes is an ear infection or other ailments of the ear. Surgical intervention or medicine can often treat and reverse conductive hearing loss.
2. Sensorineural hearing loss. SNHL, or sensorineural hearing loss, is caused by damage to the inner ear. It is the most common and often irreversible type of hearing loss.
3. Mixed hearing loss. As the name suggests, mixed hearing loss is a combination of SNHL and conductive hearing loss. For example, if you suffer from deteriorating hair cells, acquiring an ear infection can make the hearing loss even more severe.
Hearing loss affects everyone differently. If known, the cause of the hearing problem often determines the best course of treatment.
Aside from the type of hearing loss, the severity can affect communication. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association charts the different degrees of hearing loss.
The type of hearing loss, as well as the severity, greatly determines a patient’s medical care options. If your hearing feels muffled or unclear, making an appointment with a professional audiologist can help you to figure out the cause and the solution.