Different types of hearing loss
Did you know that there are 4 types of hearing loss? In this blog, we will explain the differences between Sensorineural, Conductive, Auditory Processing Disorders and Mixed hearing loss.
What does Sensorineural mean?
If you damage your Cochlea or your auditory nerve then you will probably struggle to hear properly. Damaging the Cochlea or auditory nerve affects how it communicates with your brain, this type of hearing loss is known as Sensorineural. Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is irreversible but varies from mild to severe.
There are different types of sensorineural hearing loss that include:
- Hearing loss caused by Ototoxic Medication
- Genetically inherited
- Caused by illnesses such as Meniere’s Disease and Meningitis
- Chemically induced
- Auditory Neuropathy (when the nerves that communicate sound information to your brain are damaged or work incorrectly).
People with sensorineural hearing problems can struggle to hear speech even if it is extremely loud and background noise is kept to a minimum.
Sensorineural hearing problems can be permanent or temporary depending on the cause.
90 percent of all hearing loss is sensorineural. Using quality hearing aids are one of the ways that you can improve your hearing.
What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL) happens when there is a problem in your outer or middle ear that affects the transmission of sound. If you have a conductive hearing issue then it may be caused by one of the factors below:
- A build-up of fluid
- Abnormal bone growth in your middle ear
- A ruptured eardrum
- Ear infections
People with CHL will generally understand speech if it is loud enough and background noise levels are low.
People with conductive hearing loss often describe sounds as being muffled or unclear. Conductive hearing problems can affect one ear or both depending upon what is preventing sounds from passing from your outer ear to your inner ear.
Treatment for conductive hearing problems varies depending on the cause, for instance, microsuction can resolve an earwax blockage. However, you may need a hearing aid, surgery or medication depending upon the severity of your case.
Do I have an Auditory Processing Disorder?
If you have an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) then your brain processes and interprets sound in a different way.
An Auditory Processing disorder normally begins in childhood. The symptoms below might be an indication of APD.
- Difficulty understanding speech
- Struggling to identify words that sound similar to one another, for example, ‘like and lake’
- You find music unenjoyable because of how the sound affects you.
- Inability to concentrate if there is background noise
Auditory Processing disorders can affect all age groups but generally improve during adulthood. Symptoms lessen because people with APD develop coping mechanisms and find it easier to manage.
If you think you have APD you should contact your GP in the first instance, you can also book an appointment to see one of our Audiologists for a hearing test.
What is Mixed hearing loss?
If you have sensorineural and conductive hearing loss at the same time then you have mixed hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss appears when the outer or middle and the inner ear are damaged. Such hearing damage can be moderate or severe, permanent or temporary.
For example, it is possible to have age-related hearing loss and an earwax blockage. If you have mixed hearing loss then you may need more than one type of treatment to improve the quality of your hearing.
If you notice changes to your hearing do not ignore your symptoms. Contact your GP in the first instance. If you have been diagnosed with hearing problems then make an appointment to see one of our Audiologists today.
Why are there different classifications for hearing problems?
It is important to identify the causes of different types of hearing problems to enable your Audiologist to devise a treatment plan that is suitable for you. We value your health and need to ensure that you receive the right treatment for your needs.
We will perform thorough tests and make appropriate recommendations to ensure that we can help you to have a better quality of hearing and life in general.
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