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Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be both a gradual decline of hearing over time (known as presbycusis), or a sharp decline in hearing capacity over a short amount of time, potentially due to an accident or brain injury.

There are two main types of hearing loss – conductive and sensorineural. People can suffer from the two types separately or concurrently.

Conductive hearing loss is a mechanical issue in the actual structure of the ear.

It occurs when sound isn’t correctly conducted from the world around you through to your middle ear, which is responsible for passing soundwaves through to your brain. This loss of soundwave conjunction can be caused by a series of steps within the soundwave’s journey to the brain.

The problem often relates to the external ear (encompassing the ear canal to the middle ear) which is made up of the tympanic membrane (the eardrum) and ossicles (small bones behind the eardrum).

Other causes of conductive hearing loss can include:

  • Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, known as otosclerosis
  • A buildup of earwax within the eardrum
  • A temporary infection in the middle ear
  • A buildup of fluid in the middle ear
  • A perforation of the eardrum

For someone suffering from conductive hearing loss, a hearing aid can be a great option for restoring or improving the ability to hear.

If someone is suffering from conductive hearing loss, they may only hear sounds faintly or with significantly diminished sound levels. They may also experience: a sensation of pain or pressure in one of both ears; difficulty in hearing speech of the feeling that their own voice sounds different; that it’s easier to hear out of one ear than the other.

Conductive hearing loss can sometimes be remedied with surgical intervention. However, even with surgery, the sufferer’s hearing capacity may still be diminished. In these cases, using a hearing technology solution (like a hearing aid) can be a great option for restoring or improving the ability to hear.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Even if the transmission of soundwaves from the world around you to your middle ear is working perfectly, there may be issues sending these messages from your ear to your brain.

Sensorineural hearing loss was previously referred to as ‘nerve deafness’, and is caused by a problem with your inner ear (your cochlear and the associated organs). It can also be caused by issues with the nerves that run to the hearing centre of your brain, known as the vestibulocochlear nerve.

There are two types of sensorineural hearing loss. The first is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL), an otologic condition that commonly results in a rapid decrease in hearing capacity. It can be caused by an infection within the cochlea, or miniscule tears within the structure of the ear that are usually the result of a blow to the head.

The second type is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and presbycusis. This type of sensorineural hearing loss is associated with exposure to loud noises over a period of time or general ageing.

Sensorineural hearing loss can also be caused by an unheathy diet, exposure to drugs or chemicals, autoimmune diseases, diabetes or tumours, multiple sclerosis, or a person’s genetic makeup.

Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss often include: experiencing tinnitus or muffled hearing, and experiencing vertigo or nausea.

Sensorineural hearing loss can often mean that sounds will appear loud enough, however you’ll still have difficulty understanding what they mean. This type of hearing loss can affect both ears or just one, and in most cases, hearing devices are the best course of action. In the case of total, profound hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be required.

Your Hearing Technology Experts

If some of these symptoms ring true for you, you may be experiencing one of the types of hearing loss (or a combination of both). Thankfully, modern technology has created hearing aids that deliver amazing hearing improvements while remaining virtually undetectable.

Bay Audio are the hearing technology experts, and can find the perfect hearing aid for you to ensure you can continue to enjoy life as normal. A comprehensive hearing test is the only way to confirm the type and extent of your hearing loss. Book a hearing test with one of our experts today.

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