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TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
Hearing loss is as varied as the people it affects.
Our ears work hard to correctly process sounds. These incredibly complex sensory organs can pick up almost any sound and interpret it with incredible speed. The act of hearing is a complex series of steps, and if any one of them isn't working exactly right, it can have a large impact on our ability to hear. Hearing loss can take many forms, in our hearing evaluations we endeavor to understand what part of your hearing isn't functioning correctly. With this information, we can create the correct treatment plan for your situation.
There are four main types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and accounts for about 90% of reported hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the microscopic hair cells (stereocilia) in the inner ear, become damaged. SNHL is generally permanent and can be mild, moderate, severe, profound, or total.
Neural or "retrocochlear", hearing loss occurs because of damage to the cochlear nerve. This damage may affect the creation of the nerve impulse in the cochlear nerve or the transmission of the nerve impulse along the nerve into the brain.
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by (but not limited to) the following:
Exposure to loud noise
As a function of aging
Injury to the head
Drugs that are toxic to the ear (ototoxicity)
Malformation of the inner ear
Conductive Hearing Loss
Although conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and uncommon, it can occur in some patients. Conductive hearing loss is when an issue in the outer ear or middle ear prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Treatments typically include the use of medication, surgery or hearing aids .
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by (but not limited to) the following:
Impacted earwax (cerumen)
Otosclerosis, abnormal growth of bone in or near the middle ear
Fluid in the middle ear
Physical malformation of the outer ear, canal or middle ear
Foreign objects in the ear
Mixed Hearing Loss
When the ear anatomy is damaged in multiple ways, a mixed hearing loss can occur. In many cases, both the middle or outer ear along with the auditory nerve and inner ear, have been compromised in some way. The conductive hearing component may be reversible, while typically sensorineural hearing loss tends to be permanent.
Auditory Processing Disorders
When there is hearing loss, but the ear functions correctly, auditory processing disorder (APD) may be the cause. (APD) presents itself as a difficulty of the patient to interpret, organize and analyze noises. In this situation, all parts of the patient's ears are functioning properly, but their hearing center in the brain is malfunctioning. This is often caused by disease, injury, tumors, heredity or other unknown causes.