Understanding Different Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss happens for a number of reasons like aging, exposure to loud sounds, disease, or even wax build-up. It usually occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or nerve. Varying degrees of hearing loss exists, including

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Moderately-severe
  • Severe
  • Profound

In most cases, hearing loss isn’t reversible, but there are measures that you and your doctor can take to improve your hearing, which is what we do here at Coastal Hearing Care.

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Certain pitches and frequencies also vary depending on the severity of your hearing loss. Doctors perform a range of hearing tests to determine how much you can hear. They play sounds at different decibels (dB) and measure which ones you hear while also comparing it to other adults with typical hearing, which is between 0-25 dB across a range of frequencies. Doctors also do speech tests to assess how well you hear certain words. It helps them figure out what type of hearing loss they’re experiencing. These are conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. 

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss, as the name suggests, happens when sound waves have a problem being conducted to the cochlea, a small, spiral-shaped cavity in the inner ear. Your auditory nerve and inner ear are usually problem-free in this type of hearing loss. It’s usually a problem with the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear, specifically the ossicles and Eustachian tube. Symptoms usually include muffled or super quiet sounds.

Many things can cause conductive hearing loss, such as:

  • Outer or middle ear infections
  • Fixation of ossicles called Otosclerosis
  • Deterioration of ossicles
  • Earwax build-up
  • Perforated eardrum
  • No outer or middle ear structures

Conductive hearing loss isn’t always permanent, depending on what’s causing the problem.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when your sensory receptors are damaged, specifically the cochlea or auditory nerve. It usually occurs when the hair cells in the cochlea experience damage or formed abnormally. Sound waves stop being transmitted to the brain in a proper way, so you lose your hearing.

Some symptoms include muddled sounds, ringing in the ears, not hearing background noise, and struggles understanding speech. The many causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • Damaged hair cells in the cochlea
  • Presbycusis, related to age
  • Congenital

Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent and may worsen over time. Routine hearing tests are paramount to make sure your treatment is working for you.

Mixed Hearing Loss

A person who suffers from mixed hearing loss experiences both conductive and sensorineural, meaning there is damage to their inner ear and outer ear. In these cases, the damage might be permanent or reversible, and doctors will use various treatments to manage the different problems.

At Coastal Hearing Care, we offer high-quality hearing tests and services to help you improve your hearing and quality of life. Contact us on 941-229-2122 or complete this form.