Types Of Hearing Loss
There are several types of hearing loss namely sensorineural , conductive or mixed hearing loss and disorders of central auditory processing.
Sensorineural hearing loss is due to problems within the inner ear or hearing nerve and gets worse over time. Although many times people will be able to hear, they don’t always understand what people are saying. The most probable causes are aging, exposure to loud noises, head trauma, family background, malformation of the inner ear, tumor’s and viruses or other diseases. Meningitis can also cause sensorineural hearing loss. Depending on the amount of hearing loss it is usually treated with hearing aids or if hearing aids are of no use, a severe loss may be treated with a cochlear implant.
Conductive hearing loss is due to problems with the outer ear and/or middle ear and is usually caused by blockages in the ear canal or middle ear infections. Other factors can be a perforated ear drum, poor Eustachian tube function, problems within the middle ear which affects the normal function of the middle ear bones or benign tumor’s. Depending on the amount of hearing loss it may be treated with medication, surgery or hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of sensorineural and conductive loss and means that the damage is in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear. The causes may be a combination of causes from the above two and treatment may be through medication, hearing aids or surgery.
Central auditory hearing loss occurs when issues in the central nervous system cause processing of auditory stimulus to breakdown thus causing an auditory processing disorder. People suffering from this may hear but may have difficulty understanding or processing the sound that was heard. Special rehabilitative measures can be taken to improve auditory capability.
Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as noise generated in an engineering workshop.
Sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for noise induced hearing loss to happen. People of all ages are at risk from it and recreational activities that can put someone at risk would include target shooting and hunting, listening to MP3 players at high volume through earbuds or headphones, playing in a band, and attending loud concerts.
Harmful noises at home may come from lawnmowers, leaf blowers and mechanical tools. In the sections about how we hear we explained how little hair-like structures in the inner ear plays a part in hearing. Most noise induced hearing loss is caused by the damage and eventual death of these hair cells which do not have the ability to rejuvenate themselves so once they are gone – they are gone. NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life, so be aware of loud noises that can cause damage.
Wear ear muffs or plugs when involved in loud activities. Protect children’s ears when they are too young to understand the need to protect themselves and have your hearing tested if you suspect any loss of hearing.
Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing in the ears. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. Other causes include neurological damage, ear infections, certain medications and stress. Foreign objects in the ear, sinus problems, wax build-up, and exposure to loud sounds also cause tinnitus. Many people experience tinnitus after exposure to a gunshot or a loud concert with modern amplification. This type of tinnitus can be annoying, but it usually resolves in a matter of hours.
The first thing is to see your doctor, who will check if anything, such as ear wax, is blocking the ear canal. Your doctor will ask you about your current health, medical conditions, and medications to find out if an underlying condition is causing your tinnitus. Some people find their tinnitus doesn’t go away or it gets worse. In some cases it may become so severe that you find it difficult to hear, concentrate, or even sleep. Tinnitus does not have a cure yet, but treatments that help many people cope better with the condition are available.
Hearing aids often are helpful for people who have hearing loss along with tinnitus. Using a hearing aid adjusted to carefully control outside sound levels may make it easier for you to hear. The better you hear, the less you may notice your tinnitus. As with noise-induced hearing loss, the result of damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. Anything you can do to limit your exposure to loud noise—by moving away from the sound, turning down the volume, or wearing earplugs or earmuffs—will help prevent tinnitus or keep it from getting worse.