With so many people in America affected by hearing loss - approximately 48 million, in fact - it's important to know how this condition happens and what you can do about it. The more knowledge you have surrounding hearing loss, the less it can feel isolating for you or a loved one.
There are three types of hearing loss that are typically distinguished by the part of the ear that is affected. Sensorineural, the most common type of hearing loss, is caused by damage to the inner ear where there are nerve pathways that go to your brain to help you hear. Conductive hearing loss happens when there is damage or a blockage in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound waves from passing through. Both types of hearing loss can occur simultaneously, which is then referred to as "mixed hearing loss."
The symptoms of hearing loss can be the same for each type. You may experience muffled speech and sounds, difficulty understanding conversations, or you might feel the need to increase the volume on the television. Hearing loss can also range in severity from mild all the way to profound.
Each type of hearing loss can have a variety of potential causes. Sensorineural hearing loss can be due to things like genetic conditions, exposure to loud noises, certain drugs and illness, or head injuries. Conductive hearing loss can also be due to a head injury, but can also be caused by things like infection, structural issues, foreign object, or benign tumors.
Mixed hearing loss can have one or more of the same causes of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses that affects multiple parts of the ear.
Depending on the type of hearing loss you're dealing with, there are different treatment options. Conductive hearing loss can be easier to treat, and potentially reversed, with the use of medication or with a procedure. For example, hearing loss caused by impacted earwax might be remedied with a cleaning from your hearing care provider. Sensorineural isn’t typically reversible, but there are options that can provide relief. Hearing aids can be a good option for many individuals with hearing loss.
The first step in treating any type of hearing loss is by receiving a thorough examination from a hearing care professional. Whether it came on suddenly, or has been progressively worsening over the years, it's important to get checked out and potentially treated. Treating your hearing loss can lead to improvements in your overall health, and ultimately your quality of life.
Are you experiencing hearing loss? Call our office today to set up your hearing test.