TYPES AND CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss accounts for 90% of adult hearing problems. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the hair cells in the cochlea (inner ear) become damaged and sound cannot reach the brain where it is processed.
This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the ear that help transmit sound to your brain. These can bend or break due to:
- Exposure to very loud noises
- Genetic disposition
- Virus infections in the inner ear
- Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Head injury
The effects are almost always the same – it becomes harder to distinguish speech from noise, certain high-pitched sounds such as birdsong disappear altogether, people seem to be mumbling and you often have to ask them to repeat themselves.
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and can’t be corrected medically, but hearing aids can almost always help.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves are blocked in the outer ear or middle ear and cannot reach the inner ear – where hearing is still normal. If left untreated, conductive hearing loss can result in permanent impairment.
This is caused by any blockage that prevents sound reaching the inner ear. This might include:
- A build-up of earwax
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Unusual bone growth in the middle ear
- Middle ear infections
- Small holes in the eardrum
Conductive hearing loss is not necessarily permanent and can often be corrected medically or surgically.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses. Conductive loss can be treated through medicine or surgery; sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, but can benefit from hearing aids
It is possible that you may suffer from both types of hearing loss. This condition is called mixed hearing loss . Mixed hearing losses can be helped with surgery and hearing aids.
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