Hearing loss can be attributed to many different factors, including but not limited to: genetics, ear wax, aging, noise exposure, ototoxic medications, middle ear fluid, and traumatic brain injury. Although the reasons may vary, hearing professionals categorize the hearing loss by type and degree.
There are several types of hearing loss, and it may be located in different places within the auditory system. The most common include:
- Sensorineural hearing loss (Inner Ear): This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensory meaning inner ear hair damage or neural meaning nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss used to be called “nerve damage.” It can occur suddenly overnight or progressively over time from aging, or exposure to loud/explosive noises. If you notice a hearing loss that occurs in a short amount of time (i.e overnight), please schedule an appointment immediately and let the front desk know.
- Conductive hearing loss: Difficulty hearing low, faint sounds. This area is behind the eardrum and where the Eustachian tube, and middle ear bones are located. This condition can be caused by ear infections, fluid in the middle ear, earwax buildup, tumors, allergies, problems with the middle ear bones and several other factors.
- Central hearing loss: This is a rare type of hearing loss, and is associated with the central nervous system. Patients with central hearing loss may be able to hear fine, but are unable to understand what is being said. Central can also refer to brain processing issues and central auditory processing disorder.
- Mixed hearing loss: This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
DEGREE OF HEARING LOSS
The severity of hearing loss is described in categories. Categories can range from mild, moderate, moderate-severe, severe, and to profound. In the past, hearing professionals used to describe the degree as percentages, (i.e you have 50% hearing loss). They discontinued this description because it does not accurately depict the severity. Percentages are now used to describe word understanding ability.