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TYPES OF HEARING LOSS

If you or a loved one experience symptoms of hearing loss, you may believe it’s simply a result of age – or one too many concerts. While it’s true that these are some common causes of hearing loss, there are actually four different types of hearing loss recognized by audiologists, all with their own unique symptoms:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss
  • Central hearing loss

At 20dB Hearing, our hearing experts deal daily with patients who exhibit one or more of these types of hearing loss. The good news is that the majority of their issues can be remedied with hearing aids.

Conductive
Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the ear canal, eardrum, or tiny bones of the middle ear, resulting in a reduction of the loudness of sound that is heard. Conductive losses may result from wax build-up, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstructions in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum membrane, or disease of any of the three middle ear bones.

Sensorineural
Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear (retrocochlear) to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically corrected. It is a permanent loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss not only involves a reduction in sound level, or ability to hear faint sounds, but also affects speech understanding, or ability to hear clearly. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by diseases, birth injury, drugs that are toxic to the auditory system, and genetic syndromes. Sensorineural hearing loss may also occur as a result of noise exposure, viruses, head trauma, aging, and tumour.

Mixed
Hearing Loss

Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.

Central hearing impairment occurs when auditory centres of the brain are affected by injury, disease, tumour, hereditary, or unknown causes. Loudness of sound is not necessarily affected, although understanding of speech, also thought of as the “clarity” of speech may be affected. In some cases, both loudness and clarity are affected.

Central
Hearing Loss

The fourth and final type of hearing loss is central hearing loss. Here, sound is successfully transferred to the brain, but cannot be processed correctly due to problems in the brain. Patients with central hearing loss may still react to certain environmental sounds, which often leads to misdiagnosis. This extremely rare type of hearing loss is present from birth and cannot be treated with hearing aids.

Central
Hearing Loss

The fourth and final type of hearing loss is central hearing loss. Here, sound is successfully transferred to the brain, but cannot be processed correctly due to problems in the brain. Patients with central hearing loss may still react to certain environmental sounds, which often leads to misdiagnosis. This extremely rare type of hearing loss is present from birth and cannot be treated with hearing aids.

Mixed
Hearing Loss

Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.

Central hearing impairment occurs when auditory centres of the brain are affected by injury, disease, tumour, hereditary, or unknown causes. Loudness of sound is not necessarily affected, although understanding of speech, also thought of as the “clarity” of speech may be affected. In some cases, both loudness and clarity are affected.

You Are
Not Alone

If you’re suffering with an untreated hearing loss, you may feel isolated and frustrated – like you’re missing out on life. Those around you may be feeling frustrated too. It’s important to know you’re not alone. Approximately 1 in 100 people experiences some degree of hearing loss. Happily, about 90% of these people can be helped with the use of hearing instruments.