When we think of hearing loss, we tend to think of simply a subtle loss of auditory ability that specifically pertains to muffled voices, complicated conversations and adjustments to television volume. The truth is auditory impairment can stem from a wide range of ailments that produce various symptoms that are sometimes obvious or can slowly progress over time. There are also three different types of hearing loss that can have an impact on what type of auditory side effects you encounter, and can be caused through a number of illnesses that often have nothing to do with hearing. Here is a general overview on these hearing loss variations, their causes and symptoms as well as the best sources for treatment.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is a form of auditory impairment that can start out as temporary, but slowly progress into a permanent condition if not properly treated. It mainly arises when ossicles, or bones located in your middle ear that send sounds into the brain for interpretation, are not effectively transmitting noises through the outer ear canal. The causes for conductive hearing loss mainly occur from different infections, including:
- Earwax buildup
- Swimmer’s ear
- Otitis media
- Perforated eardrum
- Infected ear canal
Symptoms of conductive hearing loss are often experienced in many ways, usually depending on which type of infection is the origin of the impairment. Sometimes sound reduction can be extremely noticeable for extended periods of time, or the occasional ringing that comes and goes, but will increase in intensity if untreated. One of the biggest signs that you could be at risk for conductive hearing loss is finding that voices begin to appear weak or faint during conversation, especially in highly populated areas. Hearing aids are not an immediate source for recovery, and in some cases, conductive hearing loss could require medical or surgical attention depending on its severity.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is typically a permanent condition that will likely necessitate the usage of hearing aids in order to experience improvement. It’s a particularly harmful condition, in which the cochlea, or inner ear region, suffers damage that affects nerve pathways directly leading up to the brain that will result in disruption of sound communication between the ear and the brain. When these pathways are injured, the brain will no longer be able to process various sounds that enter the ear, especially when multiple noises enter the canal. While aging is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss, any one of the following health defects can spawn this form of auditory damage:
- Viral infections
- Head trauma
- Side effects of medication
One of the main complications of sensorineural hearing loss is that because it can be a gradual process, symptoms are not detected right away. This is why it’s important to regularly schedule hearing screenings with audiologists so they can help get you on the path to treatment right away. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss experienced in the world, and being fitted for hearing aids is the most effective way in terms of minimizing afflicting symptoms immediately.
Mixed hearing loss
A combination of both the previously mentioned forms of hearing loss, mixed hearing loss is arguably the trickiest type of impairment to treat because you need to take care of the conductive element of auditory damage before even thinking about receiving hearing aids. This could entail getting your ear canal properly drained or exploring whether surgery is a viable option to correct whatever type of infection or bodily ailment is prompting the hearing loss. Symptoms are a general blend of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, and it’s important to keep in mind that the sooner you seek out professional auditory help, the quicker the road to recovery will be for your hearing.