Hearing loss 一 defined as not being able to hear within the thresholds of 20 decibels (dB) or better in both ears 一 can be mild, moderate, or severe. Understandably, hearing loss can have a profound impact on your quality of life, but finding the right management strategies depends on what type of hearing loss you have.
Here’s what you need to know about the types of hearing loss, courtesy of Dr. Conrad McCutcheon and Dr. Marty Lippeatt at Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing in Houston, Texas.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves don’t reach your inner ear due to an issue — usually a blockage — with your outer or middle ear. This includes excessive earwax (cerumen) buildup, fluid accumulation due to an infection, or any other blockage in your ear canal. Excessive pressure from eustachian tube dysfunction can also cause a conductive hearing loss.
You might suspect you have conductive hearing loss if you experience reduced volume and clarity of sound. Other manifestations include unusual sounds (tinnitus) and occasionally, balance disturbances. Fortunately, in most cases, this type of hearing loss is treatable by addressing the underlying issue — for example, the removal of earwax.
Sensorineural hearing loss
The next category 一 sensorineural hearing loss 一 is the most common type of hearing loss and is caused by damage to your inner ear or the vestibulocochlear (auditory) nerve. This type of hearing loss may be caused by several factors, including:
- Exposure to loud noise, such as concerts or factory noises
- Genetic factors
- Underlying health conditions, such as Meniere’s disease
- Head injuries
- Ototoxicity (medications or drugs that impact hearing)
If you have this type of hearing loss, you may experience difficulty understanding speech, you might hear faint sounds, or you could experience a ringing sensation in your ears (tinnitus). Sensorineural hearing loss is generally permanent, but hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices can help individuals manage the condition effectively.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
This can happen due to factors such as chronic ear infections, head trauma, or genetic conditions. Treatment options for mixed hearing loss depend on the specific combination of factors and may involve a combination of medical interventions, surgery, and hearing aids.
Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a fourth type of hearing loss: auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder. This type of hearing loss happens when sound enters your ear normally, but because of damage either to your nerve or inner ear, your brain can’t understand the sound signals it’s receiving.
Do you have hearing loss?
If you find it difficult to communicate with others, are constantly asking others to repeat themselves, or turn up the volume on the television more than most people, you might be dealing with hearing loss. Additionally, hearing loss can present in a variety of ways. It can affect one ear or both, it may develop slowly or quickly, or it might remain stable or get progressively worse.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait for hearing issues to get worse before you reach out for help.
Getting treatment for your type of hearing loss
Understanding the different types of hearing loss is crucial in order to make a proper diagnosis so that the condition can be managed effectively. Each type of hearing loss requires specific interventions.
With the right support, you can lead a fulfilling life and enjoy improved communication and social interactions.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is having trouble with hearing loss, don’t hesitate to reach out to Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan. Schedule your hearing loss consultation by calling 281-822-3777 or requesting an appointment online.