To determine and recommend a course of action for someone suffering hearing loss, a number of tests have to be done. The tests are varied depending on the condition of the patient. Some of them include an audio logic examination where pure tone and speech audiometry are determined. Another test called the immittance test battery is also administered and the electronystagmography test for patients who complain of imbalance or dizziness. For those who have a problem with the tinnitus, a complete evaluation of the organ is done. The data collected provides the foundation for which conclusions and recommendations are made and the kind of hearing loss determined.
There are two major types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. A third type is brought about by a combination of the first two leading to its name, mixed hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
This form of hearing loss happens when a condition or disease blocks the movement of sound in its mechanical form through the middle ear to the inner ear. This is generally caused by a blockage in the external ear or a disorder hampering the middle ear’s ability to pass the mechanical sound to the stapes.
When an audiometric evaluation of the ear is done, evidence of conductive hearing loss is shown by presence of air-bone gaps. This indicates there is better hearing by bone conduction unlike air conduction. Other identifiers of conductive hearing loss include evidence of a middle ear dysfunction during the immittance test as well as excellent word recognition at a more comfortable listening level.
This kind of hearing loss affects the intensity of the sound getting to the ear requiring more energy for the sound to be heard. This condition is usually treatable after the cause has been identified resulting in complete or partial recovery. The rest is improved on by hearing aids.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This is caused by the inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction. It involves damage or hearing loss of the two components which make it up: that’s the sensory component and the neural component. The sensory component damage can be as a result of damage to the Corti organ, a metabolic issue with the inner ear fluids or in ability of the hairs to stimulate hearing nerves. The neural hearing loss also called the retrocochlear is as a result of the degeneration of hearing nerves or their inability to convey neurochemical information to the auditory pathways.
This kind of hearing loss can be irreversible, permanent and unresponsive to medicine especially when the cause cannot be identified. However, since it causes hearing loss through the same effect of reduced sound intensity, hearing aids can be used to amplify the sounds.
Mixed hearing loss
This as earlier mentioned is a combination of the first two types of hearing loss. It happens when one has a sensorineural hearing loss with a conductive aspect overlaying all or part of the audiometric range tested. It means both the inner ear nerves and the middle ear workings have been damaged. Care has to be taken in administering a treatment and rehabilitation plan for this case.
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