Hearing Loss: Different Types

At Resonance Audiology, we believe that having a good understanding of different hearing losses can empower those affected to make informed decisions about which hearing aid or therapy they should choose.

Generally speaking, there are two major types of hearing loss – Conductive and Sensorineural. Other recognized types of hearing loss include Mixed and Central types.

Here’s a look at each hearing loss type in more detail:

1. Conductive Hearing Loss

 Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the ear canal, eardrum, or through the tiny bones of the middle ear, leading to a reduction of the loudness of a sound or inability to hear faint sounds.

Possible causes of a conductive hearing loss include:

  • Trauma to the ear
  • Infection in the ear canal
  • Fluid in the middle ear from colds
  • Swimmer’s Ear
  • Excessive wax in the outer ear canal
  • Allergies
  • Poor Eustachian tube function
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Presence of a foreign body
  • Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)

Often erroneously referred to as “nerve deafness”, a SNHL is caused by damage to the inner ear, or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Typically, this type of hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, and the only solution for most people to improve their ability to hear is to use hearing aids.

Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Illnesses
  • Viral Infections
  • Genetic or hereditary hearing loss
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Head trauma
  • Aging process
  • Medications that are toxic to the ear

Mixed Hearing Loss

Some people have a combination of conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss, referred to as a Mixed Hearing Loss.

For instance, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. Another example of mixed loss is when someone has a sensorineural hearing loss and develops fluid in their middle ear causing a conductive hearing loss.

There are instances when someone notices a decline in his or her ability to hear, it could be as a result of the temporary change in hearing caused by the conductive hearing loss, and once this is resolved, his or her hearing levels should return to the level it was prior to the conductive hearing loss. 

Central Hearing Loss

Our outer and inner ears allow us to “hear” sounds, however, it is the brain that allows us to “understand” sounds. Various medical issues can lead to breakdown of our processing of auditory stimuli, causing a central hearing loss.

Also known as an auditory processing disorder, central hearing loss was generally thought to be much more rare compared to the sensorineural or conductive types of hearing loss. However, recent studies have shown that central components to hearing loss are much more common than previously recognized.

Persons with this type of hearing loss can hear sound but have difficulty with understanding or processing what they hear. There are specific tests that can be done to determine if a hearing loss is due to a central auditory processing problem.

A comprehensive audiologic evaluation will help you or your loved one determine the types and severity of hearing loss, and the audiologic data will provide a clinical foundation for recommendations on hearing aids and other assistive listening devices suitable for treating the types of hearing impairments discussed above.

Our expert audiologist is here to help you with a hearing test Lancaster, PA, and selecting and dispensing the hearing device best fitted to your personal, professional, cosmetic and financial needs.

Contact Resonance Audiology & Hearing Aid Center, LLC today to learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids, assistive listening devices and the superior audiology services and solutions.

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