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Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has become a very common health problem, with millions of adults having some degree of hearing impairment. Understanding the type of hearing loss you are experiencing is an important step towards finding a hearing solution. There are four main types of hearing loss, and our hope is that the information below will help you understand those types as well as inform you about common causes for each one. There are four types of hearing loss :
  • Sensorineural : the most common type of hearing loss, resulting from damage to the inner ear or to nerves within the inner ear
  • Conductive : results from problems with ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear
  • Mixed : a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss
  • Central : an uncommon type of hearing loss that stems from problems within the central auditory system
Sensorineural Hearing Loss : Sensorineural loss is the most prevalent kind of hearing loss. When the tiny hair cells within the inner ear are damaged, those hair cells are unable to provide the required signals to the brain. With this type of hearing loss, sound is able to get to your inner ear normally, but those damaged hair cells send a distorted message of sound to your brain, diminishing your ability to hear. Common Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss :
  • Age (also called presbycusis)
  • Trauma to the head
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noise
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Virus or Disease
There is no known medical cure to reverse sensorineural hearing loss. However, the loss can be helped with amplification devices such as hearing aids, which enable the remaining healthy hair cells to work as efficiently as possible. Conductive Hearing Loss : Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a mechanical breakdown in the transmission of sound to the brain. This is usually the result of physical problems with the middle and/or outer ear. Causes of conductive hearing loss can be as simple as a build-up of earwax or as serious as an infection of the middle ear. Other potential causes include dislocation of the middle ear bones or a punctured eardrum. In contrast to sensorineural hearing loss, many cases of conductive hearing loss are able to be corrected with medical treatment or surgery. Often, they may require hearing aids for only a short period of time during recovery, if at all. Cases of conductive hearing loss that aren't able to be correctly medically can often be successfully treated with hearing aids. Mixed Hearing Loss : Sometimes hearing loss is the result of multiple factors. When a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss issues are present, it is referred to as mixed hearing loss. Treatment of mixed hearing loss varies for each unique situation. Any audiologist in HearingPlanet's trusted network of hearing clinics can help you to determine the best treatment for mixed hearing loss. Central Hearing Loss : Central hearing loss is the rarest of these four types of hearing loss. In this type, sound is successfully transmitted through the ear to the brain, but a problem in the central auditory system of the brain limits the individual's ability to process speech and sound. This is also referred to as an auditory processing disorder. Unfortunately, hearing aids are not able to help with this type of hearing loss. Discrimination Loss : Having a hearing loss does not simply mean the inability to hear loudly enough. Some people may also have great difficulties hearing within a specific and narrow frequency region. This can result in what is known as âdiscrimination lossâ; one can hear speech but not understand it. Extent of Hearing Loss : There are various extent of hearing loss namely mild, moderate, severe & profound hearing loss
  • Mild hearing loss : Soft noises are not heard. Understanding speech is difficult in a loud environment.
  • Moderate hearing loss : Soft and moderately loud noises are not heard. Understanding speech becomes very difficult if background noise is present.
  • Severe hearing loss : Conversations have to be conducted loudly. Group conversations are possible only with a lot of effort.
  • Profound hearing loss : Some very loud noises are heard. Without a hearing aid, communication is no longer possible even with intense effort.
What is an audiogram ? An audiogram is a graphic representation of your hearing ability. During a hearing test, your hearing is checked at different frequencies. The result is recorded as a characteristic audiogram curve. The frequencies : The horizontal scale at the bottom indicates the different frequencies. The low frequencies (e.g. the hum of an engine) are located on the far left, the high sounds (e.g. the twitter of a bird) on the far right. The loudness level : The vertical scale indicates the loudness level of the respective frequency, from soft (top) to loud (bottom). Values are given in decibels, abbreviated as dB. The healthy human ear begins to perceive sounds starting at 0 dB and reaches the threshold of pain at 110 dB. Tinnitus : Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound in the absence of an external sound source. It is commonly known as ahead noise, ear noise, ringing in the ears. About 15% of people experience tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus is a noise that lasts at least 5 minutes. Shorter episodes of ear noise that goes away are considered normal and experienced by most of people. Tinnitus Sounds are described in many various ways: crickets, wind, dripping water, buzz of fluorescent lights, pulsating tones, hissing, buzzing or ringing in the ear. The intensity of tinnitus varies and can change over time: from ââ¬Åa background noise heard in quiet, to so loud that is heard over external sounds. Causes of Tinnitus : There are many different theories to explain what causes tinnitus, however it is still considered one of the big mysteries of the human ear.
  • High exposure to noise increases the risk of developing tinnitus. For example loud environments like concerts, music festivals and night clubs, or listening to personal music players at high volume.
  • Anxiety, fast pace of living or stress can also cause tinnitus problems.
  • Ear noise itself is not a disease, but can be a symptom of other health problems of both psychological or physical background.
  • It is generally accepted that tinnitus is a side effect of damage to a personâs auditory (hearing) system. 80% of people with tinnitus also have a hearing loss.