There are several distinct varieties of hearing loss, depending on which portion of the auditory has been affected. In this brief article we present a breakdown of 5 different types – sensorineural, conductive, central, mixed and functional. Some kinds of hearing loss are more treatable than other types, and a hearing healthcare professional will be able to guide you through your choices after an initial evaluation.
- Conductive hearing loss – In situations where sound waves aren’t sufficiently conducted to the inner ear through the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. This is rather widespread and can be caused by a buildup of ear wax, an accumulation of fluid in the eustacian tube, which keeps the eardrum from moving, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the tiny bones of the middle ear and other obstructions in the ear canal.Most instances of this type of hearing loss are reversible, assuming there isn’t any permanent damage to the regions of the middle ear, and with treatment the trouble usually resolves fairly quickly. For some patients a surgical procedure can help to correct the condition or a hearing aid may be recommended.
- Sensorineural hearing loss – This type of hearing loss is responsible for over 90 percent of the cases in which a hearing aid is used. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage in the inner ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which keeps sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also known as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is more often than not permanent, although advancements in modern technology have permitted some previously untreatable cases to be improved. The most frequent reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, extended exposure to noise, issues with blood circulation to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, medicines that cause injury to the ear, a handful of diseases, heredity and problems with the auditory nerve. Hearing aids are sufficient for the majority of people who have sensorineural hearing loss, but in more severe cases, a cochlear implant may help bring back hearing to those individuals for whom a typical hearing aid is not enough.
- Mixed hearing loss – As the term suggests, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of different types of hearing loss – sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Though there are a few other types of hearing loss, the combination of these two is most frequent.
- Central hearing loss – Central hearing loss occurs when an issue in the central nervous system keeps sound signals from being processed and interpreted by the brain. The person affected can ostensibly hear perfectly well, but can’t decode or decipher what the speaker is saying. Many cases involve a problem with the individual’s ability to properly filter competing sounds. For instance, most of us can have a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but individuals with central hearing loss have a difficult time doing so.
- Functional hearing loss – A rare situation, this type of hearing loss does not have a psysiological explanation. This condition is due to psychological or emotional problem in which the person‚Äôs physical ability to hear is found to be normal, however they do not seem to be able to hear.