In the United States, hearing loss affects about 15% of all adults. By the year 2050, it’s estimated that 1 in every 10 people will have one of the basic types of hearing loss.
Have you experienced a change in your hearing? Do you have trouble following conversations or hearing the TV? Are sounds muffled or too soft? You may have hearing loss.
With perfect hearing, sound waves enter the outer ear, moving toward the middle ear and the eardrum. When the waves hit the eardrum, it vibrates. Vibrations cause the small bones in the middle ear to vibrate.
The vibrations move into the internal ear, where they become electrical energy. This energy gets processed by the brain and made meaningful.
Damage at any stage in this process may result in one of the following hearing loss types. Keep reading to learn more about these conditions and what to do if your hearing is compromised.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The first type due to hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. Those with this most common kind of loss may find it hard to hear soft sounds. Loud sounds may not be clear or can appear muffled.
hearing loss caused by a sensorineural defect can be inherited or part of the aging process. Sudden hearing loss can also occur as a result of exposure to loud noises, certain medications, or an accident.
In most cases, this type of hearing loss cannot be treated medically or surgically. With this sort of hearing loss, hearing aids may be beneficial.
Conductive Hearing Loss
When sounds cannot get through the outer or middle ear, you may have conductive hearing loss. As with hearing loss caused by a sensorineural defect, conductive hearing loss can make soft sounds difficult to hear and loud sounds may be muffled.
This type due to hearing loss has many causes. Ear infections, fluid in the internal ear, or a build-up of earwax can all cause conductive hearing loss, to name just a few.
Surgery or medication may fix this type due to hearing loss.
Mixed Hearing Loss
It is possible to have problems in your inner ear and outer ear at the same time, causing a mixed hearing loss. A mixed hearing loss can cause worse symptoms than the other hearing loss types on their own.
The same events that can cause either sensorineural or conductive hearing loss can cause a mixed hearing loss. Treatment may likewise be mixed. Surgery or medicine plus hearing aids may improve your hearing if you have this type of loss.
Hearing clinics can be valuable tools when trying to determine which type due to hearing loss you may have.
Think You Have One of These Types of Hearing Loss?
It’s vital to do all you can to protect your hearing. Using earplugs in loud environments and taking care of ear infections promptly can help prevent hearing loss.
If you are experiencing difficulty hearing, there are many people in the healthcare industry who can help you achieve optimal health for your ears. You should visit your doctor first, then they may recommend an otolaryngologist (an ENT or ear, nose, and throat specialist).
The ENT will be able to perform an exam and tests to determine which of the types due to hearing loss are affecting you. They will then develop the best treatment plan. Surgery, medication, or a pair of hearing aids can help you deal with your hearing loss and get you back to living your life.