Hearing loss is often caused by long-term or sudden noise exposure that damages the auditory nerve or hair cells and results in the impaired ability to hear and understand speech. But hearing loss impacts more than just your ears; it affects your entire well-being.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed. They are classified by the affected section of the hearing pathway. Knowing the correct type of hearing loss is necessary to develop an effective treatment plan.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition that interferes with or prevents sound transmission through the outer and middle ear to the cochlea. It’s often treated by removing a blockage, growth or foreign body from the ear canal, but can also be treated with hearing aids.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells in the cochlea or on the path from the cochlea to the brain are damaged. That type of hearing loss is often caused by illness, infection, exposure to loud sounds, ototoxic medications or aging. It may also occur in children born with genetic syndromes or an infection passed from the mother in the womb. Hearing aids are usually effective for treating this form of hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss is a term used when both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses are present in the same ear.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Understanding the severity of your hearing loss is vital in determining which treatment options will work for you.
Degrees of hearing loss range from mild to profound.
- Mild hearing loss causes people to struggle with soft tones, background noise and sounds at a distance.
- Moderate hearing loss makes conversations challenging, even without background noise.
- Those with moderately severe hearing loss have difficulty taking part in group discussions.
- With severe hearing loss, normal conversation is no longer possible in any environment.
- Even with amplification, those with profound hearing loss may not be able to understand speech.
Hearing loss has been linked to several life-threatening illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. Some of those conditions can cause or worsen hearing loss, so it’s essential to disclose any medical conditions to your audiologist.
Common hearing loss comorbidities include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Ear or sinus infections
- Head, neck or ear trauma
Hearing loss may also exacerbate certain physical and mental health conditions, including:
We offer solutions based on your degree of hearing loss, including recommendations for hearing aids. Let the experienced audiologists at Hearing Associates help you hear what you’ve been missing.