What is hearing loss? Types, causes and treatment

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss can develop at any age and can be caused by many different factors. But did you know that only five percent of hearing loss in adults can be improved medically or surgically? While hearing loss is unique to the individual, it can be categorised into three different types of loss depending on which part of the ear is affected:

 

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and occurs when the inner ear nerves (and hair cells) are damaged and do not properly transmit auditory signals to the brain. Sound and speech may be unclear or muffled even when the volume is loud enough to hear. Most of the time, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected medically or surgically. The hearing loss treatment in this instance would be hearing aids, which can treat mild hearing loss to moderate hearing loss.

 

Possible causes of hearing loss: 

  • Illness
  • Ototoxic drugs
  • Genetic or hereditary hearing loss
  • Aging
  • Head trauma
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Exposure to loud noise

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is typically the result of obstructions in the outer or middle ear. Sound does not properly conduct through the outer ear to the middle ear. Those experiencing conductive hearing loss may sense a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds. Possible treatment options include surgery, medicine and hearing aids.

Possible causes of hearing loss: 

  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Ear infection
  • Allergies
  • Poor Eustachian tube function
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Impacted earwax
  • Infection in the ear canal
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Presence of a foreign body
  • Malformation of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Possible treatment options include surgery, medicine and hearing aids.

 

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, take our online hearing test or visit a hearing professional in your area for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

By Starkey Hearing Technologies blog

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