Hearing loss, also referred to as hearing impairment, is the inability to hear. It can affect people of all age groups. People with this disability have less chances of responding to phone calls, doorbells and understanding the flow of conversation. Thus they develop a tendency of talking loudly over phones and in person. They face difficulty in responding to any kind of noise and many children suffer from developmental delay and become inattentive.
Hearing loss is of mainly three types -sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. The cause varies from person to person depending on the genetic disorder, untreated infection, physical trauma and more. To understand more about each type, let us read about it in detail.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
It is a common and permanent type of hearing loss caused when the innerear or auditory nerve is damaged. Thisblocks the nerve signals from goingto the brain. These nerve signals carry information regarding the intensity and clarity of sound.
• Genetic Syndrome
• Infection (passed from mother to foetus)
Childhood to adulthood
o Blood Vessel
o Meniere’s disease
o Scarlet fever
• Severe Injuries
• Exposure to loud noises and sounds for an extended period
• Side effects of certain medication
• Difficulty hearing noises at the train stations, sports arenas, construction sites, etc.
• Difficulty understanding few speech sounds with higher frequencies such as “s,” “h,” “f.”
• Unable to understand the voices of women and children
• Speech may seem slurred or mumbled
Since the tiny hair-like cells present in the inner ear or the auditory nerve is damaged, there is no surgical procedure to repair this.
Patients suffering from this type of hearing loss can take the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants. They can also use alerting devices, vibrating alarm clocks, and other assistive listening devices.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This hearing loss is due to severe damage to the outer or middle ear. It prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear. But unlike sensorineural hearing loss, this can be either temporary or permanent.
• Outer Ear
o Narrowing of the ear canal
o Blockage due to wax buildup
o Blockage due to development of bone-like protrusions in the ear canal (exostoses)
o Inflammation of the ear canal due to repeated exposure to water (called Otitis Externa or Swimmer’s Ear)
• Middle Ear
o Affected tympanic membrane due to injury or infection
o Thickening of the tympanic membrane
o Fluid buildup in the middle ear (called Otitis Media)
o A medical condition called Otosclerosis casing middle ear bone to freeze up
o Development of a tumor in the middle ear
o Severe injury or trauma causing a connection break between the bones of the middle ear (called Ossicular Chain Discontinuity)
• Pain in both ears
• Sensation of pressure in one or both ears
• Difficulty understanding phone conversations
• Foul odor in the ear canal
In this hearing loss, we do have medical and surgical treatments that can help the patient recover from the condition.
Medical treatments can be used when the causes are wax impaction, abnormal growths, and infections. Doctors use earwax extraction, antibiotics, and even surgical procedures. Unfortunately, it is difficult to treat exostoses, otosclerosis, and ossicular chain discontinuity with surgery. It may be considered a permanent hearing loss. These, however, are treated with traditional bone-conduction hearing aids, middle ear implants.
Mixed Hearing Loss
This hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss is caused by a combination of conductive damage in the outer or middle ear and sensorineural damage in the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing/auditory nerve.
The symptoms of mixed hearing loss are the combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
The treatment depends on whether the hearing loss is sensorineural or conductive. Since it is a mixed hearing loss, the treatment depends on whether the sensorineural or conductive hearing loss is in a greater portion. If the former is in a greater portion, hearing aids or implants are the options. If the latter is in a greater portion, surgical and medical treatments will be the options.
If you or anyone you know are suffering from hearing loss, it is time to visit our clinic. Book an appointment by calling us at+91 9533155155. Our top audiologists can assist you with the best solutions and top hearing technology.