Common Types of Hearing Loss: What You
Need to Know

Posted September 7, 2017


Although they may present similar symptoms, not all types of hearing loss
are the same.  Different types of hearing loss affect various parts of the inner
and outer ear and are caused by different things. If you are experiencing any
level of hearing loss, it's important to understand the different reasons why it
could be occurring and how these problems are treated.  Because time can
be of the essence when hearing loss occurs, knowledge is key.  Read on to
learn all about the different types of hearing loss, their causes,
and how to treat them.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common type of hearing loss.  In fact, it affects 23% of people older than 65.

Why It Happens
Sickness, age, being exposed to loud noise levels, genetics, and head traumas can all be causes of sensorineural hearing loss.
The culprit is either the cochlea, which converts the sounds that you hear into the signals that your brain receives, or the nerve pathways that connect the brain to the inner ear.

Symptoms
Lower than normal volume levels, or perceived mumbling when others talk are symptoms of this type of hearing loss. Sounds may not be clear, and low sounds may be very difficult to hear.
Typically, this type of hearing loss happens very gradually over time but on rare occasions can happen suddenly.

How to Help
Not all types of hearing loss are reversible and unfortunately, this is one of those cases.
Hearing aids help sensorineural hearing loss by augmenting the volume levels of the sounds around you that you are missing.
If Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs, emergency medical care should be sought out immediately. In these cases, the faster treatment is administered, the better chance that some salvation will occur.

Preventative Measures
Although some instances of sensorineural hearing loss are impossible to avoid, there are some ways to prevent it from happening.
Avoiding loud levels of noise, wearing ear protection, staying as healthy as possible, and avoiding unsafe situations which may lead to head traumas are all effective preventative measures.

Conductive Hearing Loss
Read on to find out more about conductive hearing loss and why it happens.
Conductive hearing loss may be permanent, but in most cases, it is not. This type of hearing loss happens when sound cannot travel from the outside of the ear to the inner ear.

Why It Happens
This type of hearing loss occurs when sound is prevented from traveling properly through the ear due to some sort of obstruction or damage. Fluids and earwax can both be culprits for this type of blockage, which can be caused from having allergies or being ill. Being congested from a cold doesn't just affect your nasal passages- it affects your ear as well!

Symptoms
Conductive hearing loss usually makes the volume of what you hear sound lower than usual. It may make quiet noises impossible to hear altogether. You also may be able to hear fluid moving around in your ear or experience a sensation of fullness within the ear, depending on the severity of the buildup.
If you or a loved one ever experience these symptoms accompanied by severe pain, it may, in fact, be an ear infection. A doctor must be seen immediately, who will usually prescribe drops which will clear the infection and prevent permanent damage.

How to Help
If the cause is wax or fluid in the ear, a specialist can assist with removal. Be careful not to attempt to remove the blockage yourself as it's very easy to damage the eardrum, which could cause even further hearing loss.
If there is another reason for the conductive hearing loss, surgery or a hearing aid may be necessary. This will help the sound waves travel more easily from the outer to inner ear.

Preventative Measures
You can't always prevent yourself from getting sick. But if ear wax is the reason for your hearing loss, you can prevent issues by refraining from using cotton swabs to clean your ears (this may just push the wax further inside and cause a build up) and making sure to keep the ears clean and dry.
Remember: ear wax is good for your ears! Generally speaking, you shouldn't remove it just because you can see it. If you find that your ears are producing too much wax, visit your local hearing specialist.

Multiple Types of Hearing Loss at Once
Some people may experience a combination of both of these types of hearing loss at once. This is known as mixed hearing loss.
Here's everything you need to know.

Why It Happens
Mixed hearing loss occurs when there is both an issue with the cochlea or nerve pathways, and also some sort of damage or blockage to the middle or outer ear.

Symptoms
This type of hearing loss will result in quite a profound reduction in the ability to hear all sounds, with a sensation of many sounds being quite muffled, or the inability to hear anything at all. 

How to Help
Seek a professional. A specialist will more than likely treat the conductive issues first as they are easier to treat, and then address the sensorineural issues.

Preventative Measures
Keeping the ears clean and dry and avoiding cotton swabs, injuries to the head area, and loud noises will all help to prevent mixed hearing loss from occurring.

What to Do Next
If you're concerned about your or a loved one's hearing, don't delay in seeking help.

The longer that hearing issues are ignored, the less likely it is that assistance will be effective. Hearing loss can affect every part of a person's life negatively and lead to depression.

Schedule an appointment with The Hearing Center of Ohio   as soon as possible to work toward improving the quality of life of the individual experiencing symptoms. Help is right around the corner!

- ​Dick Frankenberg
woman with hearing loss
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