Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

Problems affecting the outer or middle ear are referred to as conductive hearing losses. This hearing loss affects a person’s ability to conduct sound to the inner ear. These losses are common in children who suffer from ear infections, but can also be caused by a range of adult problems from simple ear wax to congenital malformations and calcium growths.

Hearing losses of this nature are often temporary and maybe medically and/or surgically treatable. Unfortunately, they represent only about three to five percent of our nation’s hearing difficulties.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

The majority of hearing difficulties result from damage to the inner ear, referred to as sensorineural or nerve hearing losses. Living in a noisy culture, we are injuring our ears at an alarming rate. Power tools, factories, guns, lawn mowers, hair dryers, MP3 players, surround sound and freeways are just a few ways in which we are slowly and imperceptibly eroding our hearing — lessening the sharpness and reducing the clarity of the spoken word. In addition, there are genetic factors, illnesses, chemicals and medications which can also affect our ability to communicate. These problems are typically permanent in nature and do not respond to medical or surgical intervention. In time because of these difficulties, those with hearing loss often begin to withdraw from social gatherings and retreat into themselves.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is the combination of conductive and sensorineural causes.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when an external source of sound is absent. Tinnitus creates a ringing noise that can also be described as buzzing, humming, whistling, tunes or songs. The sound perceived may range from background noise up to noise loud enough to drown out all other external sounds. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom resulting from a range of causes, with the most common being hearing loss. A medical evaluation is strongly recommended for those who may be experiencing tinnitus to rule out any health complications. Once evaluated, those who experience tinnitus can receive help from their audiologist, who can offer devices and techniques to help manage or minimize debilitating tinnitus.