The Causes, the Symptoms, and the Treatment: Learn to Differentiate Between These 3 Types of Hearing Loss
If you’re losing your hearing, you may start to notice certain symptoms. Speech may start to sound muffled or you may be starting to have difficulty understanding certain words. You may need to turn up the volume on the radio or TV or notice that conversations will start to sound jumbled if you’re in a social setting. It may be hard to notice the moment it starts to happen, however, when hearing loss becomes apparent, it’s time to take action.
Suffering from hearing loss can have a negative effect on many aspect of a person’s life. Those with untreated hearing loss can feel isolated and may withdraw from social settings due to embarrassment.
While the symptoms of hearing loss are almost universal, their causes are not. In general, the three most common types of hearing loss are conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. While they will all cause hearing loss, their causes, recovery rates, and treatment options can be quite different.
Conductive hearing loss
Your ear is made up of three main parts, the inner ear, the middle ear, and the outer ear.
Conductive hearing loss happens when sounds cannot make it through the outer and middle ear to your inner ear because something is muffling or blocking the sounds. This is usually caused by a foreign object lodged in the ear canal or a temporary issue, like inflammation.
Some of things that can cause conductive hearing loss include:
- Fluid in the middle ear from allergies or infection
- Your Eustachian tubes failing to function correctly and not draining fluid
- A buildup of earwax
- A benign tumor
- Something stuck in your ear (more common with children)
Conductive hearing loss can often be remedied through use of medicines or minor surgery.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that occurs after the inner ear has been damaged and can also be caused by issues with the nerve pathways from your inner to your brain. Sensorineural hearing loss (or SNHL) can be caused by certain illnesses or drugs that damage your hearing, from a blow to the head, hereditary hearing loss or aging, or from very loud noises, like explosions.
Unfortunately, SNHL is considered to be a type of permanent hearing loss that cannot be fixed with surgery or medication. However, hearing aids can be used. There are many types of hearing aids on the market, but Miracle-Ear the best in hearing technology and has helped many people with permanent hearing loss.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss can be an issue affecting any portion of the ear (inner, middle, or outer) and can be a combination of SNHL and conductive hearing loss. In fact, any of the above issues that can cause SNHL or conductive hearing loss can lead to mixed hearing loss. What this means is that you could have damage to the nerve pathways at the same time that you’re experiencing damage to the middle ear caused by inflammation or a blockage. This is mixed hearing loss. An audiologist will be able to help determine what is causing mixed hearing loss and how much of your hearing you can expect to recover.