Types of Hearing LossHearing loss is a common problem — so common, in fact, that 30 million people over the age of 12 experience it in the U.S. If you happen to be one of these people, you already know how it can impact your relationships and your ability to communicate. Finding a solution is an urgent matter. Before you can do so, though, you must understand what type of hearing loss you’re dealing with. In some cases, the problem may be an easily resolved case of ear infection or wax buildup. In other cases, a problem such as conductive hearing loss may actually be the culprit. Read on to learn about conductive vs. sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when a person’s inner ear or auditory nerve is subjected to strain or damage. It is the most common type of hearing loss that’s permanent, and it often causes difficulty hearing quieter sounds.

Causes

  • Illness
  • Drugs that damage hearing
  • Hereditary hearing loss
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Aging
  • Damage from loud noises

Symptoms

  • Others’ speech sounds slurred or mumbled
  • Consistent buzzing or ringing noise
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
  • Trouble hearing higher-pitched noises
  • Feeling of dizziness or lack of balance

Treatment

Typically, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated with surgery, medication, or therapy. Luckily, though, there are many types of hearing aids that can provide auditory support to a person struggling with this type of hearing loss. Hearing aids can combat the problem by magnifying the vibration of sound that enters the ear and thus helping the wearer hear better.

Conductive Hearing Loss

What is conductive hearing loss? Conductive hearing loss happens when sound is unable to reach a person’s inner ear, often as a result of trauma or an obstruction. Unlike sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss is often temporary and treatable with a variety of interventions.

Causes

  • Fluid trapped in the middle ear
  • Ear infections
  • Poorly functioning Eustachian tubes
  • Hole in the eardrum
  • Tumors
  • Accumulation of earwax

Symptoms

  • Hearing is affected primarily on one side
  • Pain occurs in one or both ears
  • There is a feeling of pressure in the ears
  • Ear canal emits an unpleasant odor
  • Perceived difference of one’s own voice

Treatment

There are many differences between conductive vs sensorineural hearing loss, and one of the biggest is the type of treatments that can be used. In some cases, medicine or surgery may be able to mitigate its effects and improve a person’s hearing. If conductive hearing loss is caused by an abnormal growth, for example, it can be remedied through the surgical removal of the growth.

Mixed Hearing Loss

In some cases, hearing loss is caused by a combination of conductive and sensorineural phenomena. This is called mixed hearing loss, and it is one of the most common hearing loss types.

Causes

  • Trauma
  • Injury from blast
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Wax impaction
  • Compounded effect if two types of hearing loss
  • Combination of causes of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss

Symptoms

  • Combination of symptoms of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss

Treatment

There are many treatment options for mixed hearing loss, but which one is best will depend on whether hearing loss is primarily sensorineural or conductive. In some cases, treatment via medicine or surgery may be most effective, whereas other cases may be best treated with a hearing aid. Working with an audiologist is key to determining the right treatment option based on your needs.

Single-Sided Deafness

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when a person’s inner ear or auditory nerve is subjected to strain or damage. It is the most common type of hearing loss that’s permanent, and it often causes difficulty hearing quieter sounds.

Causes

  • Illness
  • Drugs that damage hearing
  • Hereditary hearing loss
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Aging
  • Damage from loud noises

Symptoms

  • Others’ speech sounds slurred or mumbled
  • Consistent buzzing or ringing noise
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
  • Trouble hearing higher-pitched noises
  • Feeling of dizziness or lack of balance

Treatment

Typically, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated with surgery, medication, or therapy. Luckily, though, there are many types of hearing aids that can provide auditory support to a person struggling with this type of hearing loss. Hearing aids can combat the problem by magnifying the vibration of sound that enters the ear and thus helping the wearer hear better.

Sudden Hearing Loss

Hearing loss tends to be a gradual experience. Sufferers often notice difficulty making out others’ speech, and this can worsen over time. Sometimes, though, the problem appears suddenly and is not gradual at all. Sudden hearing loss isn’t as common as sensorineural or conductive hearing loss, but it is a problem nonetheless — and one study indicates that it may be on the rise.

Causes

  • Illness and infections
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Exposure to drugs that damage hearing
  • Problems with blood circulation
  • Neurological disorders
  • Inner ear disorders

Symptoms

  • Hearing is suddenly, dramatically impaired
  • Ears feel full or heavy
  • Ringing or buzzing noise in the ear
  • Dizziness or difficulty keeping balance

Treatment

If your hearing is suddenly diminished, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In some cases, this may be indicative of a more serious problem. If the cause cannot be immediately determined, corticosteroids are a common treatment route because they work to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids may be administered with an oral pill or an in-ear injection. If hearing is not restored by this treatment, and the problem persists, other options such as hearing aids may be recommended by your doctor or audiologist.

Contact MetroHearing to Learn More About Hearing Loss and Treatment

There are many different types of hearing loss, and all of them are stressful. A diminished ability to hear can interfere with many aspects of your life, so of course, you want to find a solution as soon as possible. MetroHearing has been serving clients in areas such as Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale, and Sun City for over 40 years. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists, call us at (602) 639-4064 or reach out to us online.

 

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