Introduction to Different Types of Hearing Loss – Causes and Treatments

Hearing loss is characterized by the inability to hear sounds coming from the environment. Studies say that 1 in 10 people are affected by loss of hearing to different degrees. The degree of hearing loss means the extent of damage. It can range from mild to profound, and can be helped by the use of devices designed to enhance a person’s ability to hear.

Hearing Loss Types:

When the bones of the middle ear, the incus, malleus, and stapes (the smallest bones in the body) do not receive sound from the external ear, this is called Conductive Hearing Loss. This results in the inability to hear faint sounds.

Damage to the inner ear, namely the cochlea, results in permanent hearing loss. This is called Sensorineural Hearing Loss. The cochlea contains the auditory nerve that sends electrical impulses synapse xt to the brain. Damage to this nerve prevents impulses from reaching the brain for interpretation.

A combination of the two above hearing deficits is called Mixed Hearing Loss, and is due damage of the outer, middle, and inner ear.

When there is an abnormality in the brain, such as a brain tumor, or a non-malignant tumor in the auditory canal, That causes sound to not be sent to the brain, it is called Central Hearing Loss.

There is also unilateral loss of hearing, meaning that hearing deficit is located in just one ear.

How Hearing Is Lost?

There are a variety of reasons that causes one to not hear sounds. These causes include:

Loud sudden noises, such as an explosion or airbag deployment
Family history (Genetics)
Repeated ear infections
Chronic illness such as diabetes
Puncture of the eardrum
Excessive Ear wax
Blockages such as ear wax, fluid, or mechanical obstruction
Lesions (tumors)
Trauma to the head
Constant exposure to loud noises

Loss of Hearing is measured in degrees or severity and is diagnosed by a series of hearing tests which tells the type, degree, and location of the hearing deficit.

There are several testing procedures performed by your health care provider to determine one’s loss of hearing and the extent of damage. These tests include:

Weber’s test utilizes the tuning fork
Rinne test – compares air and bone conduction
Audiogram – measures hearing levels
Speech testing

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