Hearing loss is often viewed as a normal part of aging, but it’s a common disorder affecting 1 in 3 adults over 65. You might think that your hearing loss is just a result of old age and nothing to worry about, but it can affect all aspects of your life—from going out for an evening with friends to communicating with coworkers at work. Understanding what type of hearing loss you have will help you better manage your symptoms and take control of your health.
We understand that hearing loss can be an emotional and physical challenge at Victoria Hearing Center. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to explain the different types of hearing loss in a way anyone can understand.
Hearing loss is more common than you think. The World Health Organization says that globally, 360 million people have disabling hearing loss—a statistic that continues to rise as our world gets louder.
Understanding how it works will help you be a better caregiver or malady sufferer and understand what’s going on with your loved one. Here are the basics:
- Hearing loss can affect your ability to communicate and interact with others
- It can also affect your ability to do everyday tasks
Types Of Hearing Loss.
Hearing loss can be divided into three main types.
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when the vibration can’t reach your eardrum. If there is a problem with the ear canal or middle ear, it can affect your hearing. This hearing loss occurs when sound waves are blocked from reaching your ear by an obstruction in your outer or middle ear. This obstruction could be caused by an infection or injury that affects the eardrum or ossicles (tiny bones that transmit vibrations from the eardrum to the cochlea). If you have conductive hearing loss, you may also have tinnitus (ringing in your ears), dizziness, and vertigo.
Common causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- Waxy buildup
Sensorineural hearing loss
It happens when the inner ear or the auditory nerve that transmits sound to your brain is damaged. In this hearing loss, several factors damage your inner ear’s hair cells. These include aging, trauma, infections, and exposure to loud noises at work or while playing music in a band.
The damage often isn’t visible on an MRI or CT scan (x-rays). However, some types of sensorineural hearing loss can be seen on scans if there are fluid pockets around the brainstem. In addition to visible fluid pockets around your ears, other symptoms include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in one or both ears)
- Deafness (not able to hear well enough even with amplification)
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss means you have some sensorineural and some conductive hearing loss. The most common causes are fluid in the ear, a perforated eardrum, otitis media (middle ear infection), and impacted wax.
The difference is that with mixed hearing loss, your eardrums are intact, but they can’t vibrate because of fluid buildup behind them. This happens when the vibrations of sound waves get stopped at the middle ear by fluid or other substances like wax buildup rather than reaching the inner ear, where they need to be picked up by sensory cells called hair cells on their way down into it.
Conductive hearing loss does not involve damage to these delicate hair cells inside our ears. Instead, it comes from damage outside them—damage in our outer or middle ear canal or even further out along its path through bone and skin tissue from our head up through our neck bone before reaching those delicate auditory nerve fibers just outside of it!
We hope this article has helped you understand the different types of hearing loss and how they work. Remember that it’s important to see a doctor if you are having trouble hearing so they can determine the cause. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a hearing deficiency, don’t panic! Many resources are available to help make life easier, such as assistive devices or surgery if necessary. At Bay Area Audiology, we have hearing test experts that can help get you on the road to better hearing.