If you don’t yourself suffer from a loss of hearing, it is all too easy to just assume that there is just the one “type” of hearing loss. You damage your hearing, that’s it.
However, this is completely incorrect.
There are, in fact, various different types of hearing loss): sensorineural, conductive, mixed and central.
The former two are the more commonly experienced varieties.
Each type has a different type of treatment associated with it as well, so it is important to know the differences between them.
01. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common form of hearing loss. Also known as “cochlear”, “nerve” or “inner ear” hearing loss, it is caused by problems in the inner ear. 9 out of every 10 users of a hearing aid suffer from sensorineural hearing loss.
The more common causes of this type of hearing loss are degradation through aging, exposure to loud noises, various infections and diseases, issues with inner ear fluid and blood, ototoxic medications (read more about those here), nerve problems and genetic issues.
Unfortunately, this is permanent, and we don’t know of any cure just yet. The best treatment is simply to use hearing aids. However, if someone is suffering from severe sensorineural hearing loss, cochlear implants are also a solution.
02. Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is caused by sound not being correctly conducted through the ear – this decreases the overall volume of the sound reaching the ear, making it harder to discern the sounds.
This is often caused by obstructions in the ear such as excess ear wax, fluid in the middle ear, a perforated ear drum or ear infections. It can also be related to diseases in the middle ear bones.
People who suffer from the conductive variety may feel like their ears are all plugged up, and they may experience their own voice sounding much louder than it actually does.
Most of the causes can be solved fairly simply – ear wax, for example, can be removed with ear drops and similar things. Sufferers of permanent conductive hearing loss may find hearing aids to be of use, but in all cases, an audiologist should be contacted when seeking help with hearing loss.
03. Mixed Hearing Loss
Not much to describe in this case – you have mixed hearing loss if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from both the conductive and the sensorineural types.
04. Central Hearing Loss
Central hearing loss is caused by a variety of problems in the central nervous system. It’s fairly complicated to explain, but the way we hear things is as follows: the ears take in sound, and then it is sent via electrical signals to the auditory nerve, which “translates” it so that the brain can interpret the signal.
Problems in the central nervous system cause a communication breakdown, meaning that the brain cannot process the signals correctly. This means that people with central hearing loss may be able to “hear” perfectly – they just don’t understand what was being heard.