Different Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be difficult to recognize when you’re the one suffering from it. In most cases it comes on gradually, making it easier for individuals around you to notice symptoms before you. To properly identify symptoms of hearing loss, it’s crucial to understand the different types.
There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural and conductive). Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe or profound. It also can vary across pitches. Palm Beach Hearing Associates offers specialized hearing tests to determine the degree of any hearing loss as well as the type of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
With conductive hearing loss, sound does not reach the inner ear. Sometimes it’s due to a blockage in the ear canal such as a wax impaction, a narrowing of the ear canal, swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) or a foreign object stuck in the ear. If the conductive hearing loss occurs due to a problem with the eardrum or middle ear, it may be caused by an injury, infection or buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
Rarely, medical conditions may cause conductive hearing loss, such as problems with the bones in the middle ear or growths or tumors.
The symptoms of conductive hearing loss include muffled sounds or a noticeable reduction in volume.
Depending upon the cause of the conductive hearing loss, it may be temporary or permanent. Medical treatment may solve conductive hearing loss or amplification may be an option for permanent cases.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss happens when there is a problem with the cochlea of the inner ear. That’s where sound is transmitted to the brain. This type of hearing loss occurs due to damage to the hair cells in the cochlea or some sort of abnormality.
The symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss include difficulty hearing with background noise, muffled speech and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
Sensorineural hearing loss is almost always permanent. It’s caused by exposure to noise, trauma to the ear, infection and drugs. Often, sensorineural hearing loss occurs naturally in the aging process. This is known as presbycusis. This type of hearing loss may also be congenital.
With sensorineural hearing loss, regular hearing tests are recommended to monitor any hearing loss. Treatment generally includes hearing aids and may involve cochlear implants if the hearing loss is severe.
Mixed hearing loss
As the name implies, mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. That means there is a problem with the inner ear and the outer or middle ear. Mixed hearing loss usually is treated with hearing aids.
Neural hearing loss
A less common type of hearing loss is called neural hearing loss. This involves the auditory nerve, which carries impulses from the cochlea to the brain. It occurs when that nerve is abnormal or missing. Neural hearing loss is difficult to diagnose because the exact location of the problem sometimes is not evident.
Symptoms of neural hearing loss include difficulty understanding speech at normal or higher volumes, especially when there is background noise. It’s caused by medical problems in utero, premature birth, jaundice in infancy, or genetic issues or tumors.
Treatment usually involves hearing aids.
Our hearing experts at Palm Beach Hearing Associates can diagnose the cause of your hearing issues and suggest the best treatment possible. Start your path to better hearing. Contact our Palm Beach Gardens office at 561-500-3277 or out Boynton Beach office at 561-708-6246.