Not all hearing loss is created equal. There are actually several types of hearing loss- each with its own underlying cause. The most common types include sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.
What Are The Most Common Types of Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss. (It occurs in 23% of population older than 65 years of age.)
What is it? This is permanent hearing loss caused by damage to either the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear or the auditory nerve itself. As a result, nerve signals to the brain (that carry info about the loudness and clarity of sound) are blocked or weakened.
What are the symptoms? This type of hearing loss impacts loudness and clarity, resulting in:
- Noises that seem too loud or too quiet
- Trouble following a conversation when two or more people are talking simultaneously
- Difficulty listening in noisy environments
- Other people’s speech seeming slurred or mumbled
- Ringing/buzzing in the ear
- Experiencing dizziness or feeling off balance
- The ability to hear better out of one ear than the other
- Pain in one or both ears
- A feeling of pressure in one or both ears
- Difficulty with telephone conversations
- The sense that your own voice sounds louder or different
What causes it? In children born with sensorineural hearing loss, it is generally caused by a genetic syndrome or infection from the mother to the fetus. When it develops later in life, the cause can be from a variety of factors including:
- Presbycusis- deterioration as a result of advanced age
- Auto-immune or blood vessel diseases
- Traumatic injuries
- Loud sounds lasting for an extended period of time
- Certain medications
- Meniere’s disease
Conductive hearing loss
What is it? This form of hearing loss (which can be either temporary or permanent) occurs as a result of an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle ear that blocks sound from being conducted to the inner ear.
What are the symptoms? The issues related to this type of hearing loss center around the overall loudness of sounds.
What causes it? The causes of this type of hearing loss depend on which part of the ear is affected.
- A narrowing of the ear canal
- Swimmer’s Ear
- Foreign bodies inserted into the ear
- Damage to the Tympanic membrane as a result of injury, ear infections or extreme/rapid air pressure changes
- Fluid buildup in the middle ear
- Blockages in the Eustachian tube (that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat)
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss and commonly occurs with the ear sustains trauma or gradually over time when one hearing loss is compounded by another. The symptoms are a combination of the two types.
Hearing loss varies in type and also in recommended treatment. If you are experiencing hearing loss, contact South Florida ENT Associates to have your situation assessed by our Board Certified Audiologist. Proper diagnosis is critical in formulating a treatment plan that is best suited to you.
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