Types of Hearing Loss

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Hearing Loss is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease.

Hearing loss can decrease how well you hear suddenly or slowly. Depending on what causes the hearing loss, it could either be intense or very mild. It may also be only temporary or permanent. Hearing loss that slowly decreases can vary from mild to profound. The most common causes of hearing loss in adults would be age or exposure to noise. Hearing loss is a condition that is not known to most people around you, because of that no one really knows how it affects you. Someone who has hearing loss might have behavior like inattention, standoffishness, confusion, dementia or even a change in personality. 

Let's look closer at the two types of hearing loss - Conductive and Sensorineural

To start off, some anatomy. The structure of your ear has three parts.

  • The outer ear contains the pinna, (the external part of your ear that is visible) and the ear canal
  • The middle ear contains the eardrum, three ossicle bones, and the Eustachian tube
  • The inner ear contains the cochlea (involved in hearing) and the semicircular canals (part of your balance system)

Conductive Hearing Loss involves the outer and middle ear.

Someone who has normal hearing experiences sounds loud and clear. With conductive hearing loss, most things sound similar, just much quieter. The softer the sound, the more difficult to hear. The louder the sound, the more muffled it may be.

What causes Conductive Hearing Loss?

A problem in the outer or middle ear can contribute to conductive hearing loss.

Earwax (cerumen) or a foreign object stuck in your ear canal
Otitis externa - outer ear infection or inflammation, sometimes called “swimmer’s ear”
Abnormality in the outer or middle ear –  from heredity or injury, including head trauma
Benign tumors blocking the outer or middle ear
Perforation of the eardrum - holes in the eardrum from trauma, pressure, or infection
Otitis media - infection or inflammation in the middle ear
Fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies or Otitis media
Eustachian tube function – this tube connects your middle ear and your nose to drain fluid from the middle ear.
Otosclerosis - changes in the ossicles (small bones) in the middle ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss involves the inner ear and/or nerve pathways.

Speech that sounds quieter and distorted, is called sensorineural hearing loss. Most of the time, low frequency vowel sounds will be better perceived than high frequency sounds that are constant. Soft sounds may also be difficult to hear. Certain loud sounds may be distorted and unclear.

Sensorineural hearing loss is also called presbycusis (or presbyacusis) and results from damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea or damage to the auditory nerve that transmits signals to the brain. This type of hearing loss also may be accompanied by tinnitus, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Aging
Noise
Disease and Infections
Head or Acoustic Trauma
Tumors
Medications

What Are My Options to Deal with Hearing Loss?

If you feel like there is a change in your hearing, do not wait until the last minute for it to get worse. Call us today for an appointment with Dr. Nunnally.

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