Hearing Loss

How to Recognize Hearing Loss:

hearing at dinner

Because the onset of hearing loss is usually gradual (barring exposure to sudden levels of loud noise), it is not unusual for family and friends to notice it before the affected person. The following questions may be helpful in determining whether you (or someone you know) should have your hearing tested:

  • Do you have trouble following the conversation if two or more people are talking at the same time?
  • Do you prefer to have the television set at a louder volume level than others around you?
  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  • Do you feel that you can hear but not understand?
  • Do you have trouble understanding phone conversations?
  • Do you misunderstand what people are saying and respond inappropriately?
  • Do you have trouble understanding women and children?
  • Do you have trouble understanding in a noisy environment?
  • Do you feel that many people mumble or don’t speak clearly?
  • Do you sometimes fail to hear someone speak from behind you?

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, it is advised that you seek professional treatment.

Types of Hearing Loss:   

outer, middle, inner ear drawing

The type of hearing loss can be determined by which part of the auditory system has been damaged. There are three main types of hearing loss, including sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss : Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.  It occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Typically, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected through medication or surgery. People with sensorineural hearing loss may lose not only loudness, but also the ability to hear speech clearly, regardless of the loudness. Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
    1. Exposure to loud noise
    2. Aging
    3. Drugs that are toxic to the hearing (ototoxic) mechanism
    4. Illnesses
    5. Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
    6. Malformation of the inner ear
    7. Head trauma
  • Conductive Hearing Loss: Conductive Hearing Loss is the result of sound not being transmitted correctly through the ear canal to the eardrum and into the middle ear, where the three smallest human bones are located. Conductive hearing loss involves reduction in the loudness of sound, but not loss of speech clarity. This type of hearing loss is often medically treatable. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include:
    1. Impacted earwax (cerumen)
    2. Fluid in the middle ear cavity caused by colds or allergies
    3. Middle ear infection
    4. Poor eustachian tube function
    5. Perforated Eardrum
    6. Infection of the external ear canal
    7. Swimmer’s ear
    8. Presence of a foreign body in the ear canal
    9. Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear
    10. Benign tumors
  • Mixed Hearing Loss: Mixed Hearing Loss is the combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss – meaning damage to the outer or middle ear plus damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve.