Hearing loss varies in severity from mild to profound, with many other levels in between. However, the different types of hearing loss are just 4, with 3 being the major ones. These are differentiated by the cause of the hearing loss in the ear. Below, discover what these types of hearing loss are, what causes them, what treatments, such as hearing aids, are available, and more.
- Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when the outer and middle ear sections are affected. As the name suggests, this type of hearing loss is characterized by the inability of the ear to conduct sound waves successfully into the inner year. As a result, faint and low sounds are lost, thereby causing normal, mild or slight hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by ear infections, earwax buildup, damaged eardrums, malformations of the ear, tumors, allergies, among other factors. For the most part, conductive hearing loss can be treated via surgery, medication, and hearing devices.
- Sensorineural hearing loss
This type of hearing loss occurs when the inner ear is affected. As a result, sounds pass the outer and middle ear but they are not effectively received or translated in the inner ear. This is mostly due to the damage of the cochlea or the auditory nerves. Faint sounds are affected most.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by different factors such as aging, exposure to harmful decibels, medication, illness, injury or trauma, hereditary problems, tumors, etc. Unfortunately, this type of hearing loss is not as easy to treat as conductive hearing loss. Some cases can be treated or partly reversed via surgery and implants. However, in many other cases, the result is usually permanent hearing loss.
- Mixed hearing loss
This is where an individual suffers a mix of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This can occur as a result of one single incident or as a result of multiple incidents. That is, there is damage to both the inner ear, as well as the outer and/or middle ear. The causes here will be a mix of the same causes found in both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. For example, you could be having a damaged ear drum and genetic hearing loss that runs in the family.
Some cases of mixed hearing loss can be treated or limited using survival means and hearing devices or implants. However, in many other cases the hearing gloss is permanent. This will depend on the exact causes of the hearing loss.
- Auditory processing disorders
One can also suffer from hearing loss due to the inability of their brain systems to process the sounds waves entering the ear. The processing of the sound waves may be incomplete or inefficient. This type of hearing loss is referred to as auditory processing disorder. It’s not as common as the other three hearing loss types above and is quite similar to sensorineural hearing loss.
After a hearing test, your audiologist can advise you appropriately about the type of hearing loss you have, its cause, and the best treatment option for you.
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