The Three Types of Hearing Loss
The human ear is a profoundly complex and fascinating sensory organ. It’s comprised of many tiny parts, each of which serves a vital function in the process of hearing. If one or more of these parts are affected by illness or injury, our ability to make out and distinguish sounds is impacted. Even though there are only three broad categories of hearing loss from Audiologists, there are a vast number of variations within these classifications. Therefore, what follows is a simplified version of the nuances of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
This type of hearing loss occurs as a result of forces affecting the middle ear and /or the outer ear. It involves a reduction in sound level as well as the ability to hear faint sounds. Sometimes this type of hearing issue is only temporary, and at other times, it’s a permanent condition. There are a number of possible causes that may contribute to or cause conductive hearing loss. Some of these include:
- Congenital defects
- Excessive ear wax
- Swimmers ear
- Injury or trauma
- Hereditary disorders like otosclerosis.
In cases of conductive hearing loss, medication or surgery often resolve the issue. In certain situations where these methods are ineffective, a hearing aid or device may be used. If you experience any of these symptoms you should also seek help immediately from an Audiologist to receive a hearing test in Kelowna or Vancouver.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This type of hearing loss is the result of damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. It’s characterized by distortions and muffling of sounds. Even when sounds are loud enough they can be difficult to distinguish, especially when it comes to speech. Some of the causes behind this type of hearing loss include:
- Exposure to excessively loud noise
- Abrupt changes in air pressure
- Specific viruses
- Certain diseases such as merniere’s disease and autoimmune inner ear disease
In most cases, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be corrected with medication or surgery. Frequently, these cases of hearing loss are treated with hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss
As the name implies, this type of hearing loss is an amalgamation of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, both the outer ear or middle ear as well as the inner ear or auditory nerve are impacted. In these cases, conductive hearing loss is often treated first (via surgery and/ or medications) before sensorineural hearing loss.
When it’s your hearing…
If you suspect that your capacity to hear is diminishing, the best course of action is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. We offer hearing tests that can help you pinpoint both the problem and the solution. Expert Hearing Solutions has locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and throughout the lower mainland to serve you. And should you need them, we’ll also supply you with hearing devices. Call to schedule an appointment or drop in at a Vancouver or Okanagan hearing clinic.