There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Determining which type of hearing loss you or a loved one is experiencing is key to understanding its unique set of causes and treatment.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It accounts for 90 percent of all reported cases of hearing loss in the United States.
What causes it? Sensorineural hearing loss is most commonly caused by aging and prolonged exposure to loud noise. It happens when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. These cells are vital for sending sound signals to our brain for speech processing.
What are the Symptoms? Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss often include hearing muffled sound instead of higher pitched tones. In addition, background noise can become more difficult to discern from natural sounds.
Sensorineural hearing loss is chronic and permanent.
- Custom Hearing Aids
- Cochlear Implants for more serious cases
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is a very common phenomenon. Conductive hearing loss occurs alone or combined with sensorineural hearing loss.
What causes it? Conductive hearing loss occurs because of a problem with conducting sound waves anywhere along the outer ear, eardrum or ossicles. Conductive hearing loss is most commonly caused by ear infection, abnormal bone growth, perforations of the eardrum, or excessive ear wax.
What are the symptoms? The symptoms of conductive hearing loss often include a sensation of pain in both ears and difficulty hearing speech. In contrast to sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss typically involves issues with perceiving the loudness of sounds, not the clearness.
For the most part, conductive hearing loss can be treated and is considered temporary. The chances of treatment success depend on the severity of the damage to the ear.
- Medical treatment involving medication or ear drops
- Custom hearing aids for long-term use
- For serious cases, cochlear implants may be considered
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is exactly as it sounds – a mixture of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
What causes it? Mixed hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the ear’s ability to conduct sound in both the outer and middle ear. Certain genetic factors, overexposure to loud noise, and certain medications can lead to mixed hearing loss.
What are the symptoms? The symptoms of mixed hearing loss are a reduced ability to hear in one or both ears. The first sign is often the inability to understand speech clearly.
- Custom Hearing Aids
- Medical surgery
- Cochlear implants
Common Hearing Loss Treatments
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing aids help combat hearing loss by making sounds stronger and easier to hear. They can enhance almost all levels of sound and are one of the most widely used solutions for treating hearing loss. Hearing aids work to amplify sound, decrease feedback noise and improve your ability to communicate with the world around you. They are trusted by millions around the world to successfully treat long-term hearing damage.
How Does a Cochlear Implant Work?
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted neuroprosthetic, electronic device that increases sound capability in a patient who suffers severe hearing loss. It consists of two parts: an external portion is placed behind the ear while an internal portion is surgically located under the skin. Cochlear implants offer long-term quality hearing and are usually used for the most extreme cases of hearing loss.
Schedule a Hearing Exam Today
Depending on the scope and severity of your symptoms, you will need to seek help from a hearing aid specialist, audiologist or ENT specialist.
In order to get a head start on preserving your hearing, we recommend that you make an appointment for a complimentary hearing consultation. Call or schedule an appointment online with our office today and we’ll help you take the next step in your journey to better hearing.