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Types of Hearing Loss

By Cristiana , in General , at March 29, 2023

48 million Americans are living with some form of hearing loss. So, it’s likely that you know somebody who has a hearing impairment.

Hearing loss is a hidden disability because it can be clear on someone’s face that they’re not listening, but you’d never know why. So it’s helpful for everyone to know the types of hearing loss and how to identify them. If you’re hoping to better understand this disability and help minimize its effects, read on.

Knowing the types of hearing loss can help you learn how to help a friend or family member or even yourself.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is one type of hearing loss that affects the way sound travels through the outer ear, ear canal, and middle ear. This type of hearing loss can be because of a blockage or damage to any of the three parts of the ear, which can prevent sound from traveling to the inner ear.

Common causes of conductive hearing loss include ear wax buildup, fluid in the middle ear, or blockage in the ear canal. Some other causes of conductive hearing loss can include birth defects or damage to the eardrum. This type of hearing loss is usually mild to moderate and can be treated with medication or surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage or injury to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss may be sudden or gradual and may or may not be reversible.

It is often caused by aging, genetic factors, or other medical conditions. People with this type of hearing loss experience reduced sound intensity, distorted hearing, and difficulty understanding speech.

Its treatment usually involves hearing aids and assistive devices. So, if you’re interested in learning more about hearing aids and how they work, you can find more information here.

Surgery is also sometimes recommended to restore hearing in some cases, but this is less common than other treatments. 

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss combines both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses. It is often the result of damage to both the outer and inner ear.

People with mixed hearing loss often experience a decrease in sound levels across all frequencies. They may also have both speech understanding difficulties and an inability to detect soft sounds.

Hearing aids or other assistive listening devices may help to improve sound quality. However, these will only be effective in specific situations. Surgery to correct the underlying cause of the hearing loss can sometimes be the key for people with mixed hearing loss. 

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) occurs when sound reaches the inner ear but is disrupted on its way to the brain. People with this type of hearing loss often can’t detect speech or may hear sounds as garbled. The sound may experience delays, or it may register in a robotic tone.

Individuals with ANSD may also experience difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. Treatment is usually done with a combination of hearing aids and auditory training.

Understanding Different Types of Hearing Loss Is Important

Hearing loss can have a serious effect on an individual’s life, but with the right treatment, it can be managed. No matter the types of hearing loss people experience, seeking professional help is key.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, visiting an audiologist can help you find out the type and develop a treatment plan. Don’t wait. Take action today!

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