There are several distinct forms of hearing loss, depending on which part of the auditory is impaired. In this short article we offer a breakdown of 5 categories – conductive, sensorineural, central, functional and mixed. The initial step in designing a treatment plan is to properly establish the type of hearing impairment.
Conductive hearing loss – When sound waves are not properly conducted to the interior of the ear through the structures of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. Conductive hearing loss is quite widespread and can be due to an accumulation of ear wax, an accumulation of fluid in the eustacian tube, which prevents the eardrum from moving, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the bones of the middle ear and other obstructions in the ear canal.
Most cases of conductive hearing loss are reversible, assuming there isn’t any irreversible damage to the regions of the middle ear, and with proper treatment the issue usually clears up fairly quickly. For some patients a surgical procedure can assist in correcting the condition or a hearing aid may be recommended.
Sensorineural hearing loss – This type of hearing loss accounts for more than 90 percent of the situations in which a hearing aid is used. It is the result of damage in the inner ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which keeps sound signals from reaching the brain. Also referred to as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the impairment is for the most part permanent, though breakthroughs in modern technology have allowed some formerly untreatable cases to be improved.
The most common reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, prolonged exposure to noise, problems with blood circulation to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, drugs that cause injury to the ear, a small number of diseases, heredity and problems with the auditory nerve.
Hearing aids are satisfactory for most people that have this kind of hearing loss, but in more severe cases, a cochlear implant can help restore hearing to those for whom a typical hearing aid is not enough.
Functional hearing loss – An infrequent occurrence, this type of hearing loss does not have a psysiological explanation. Functional hearing loss is caused by psychological or emotional problem in which the person‚Äôs physical hearing is found to be normal, but they do not seem to be able to hear.Central hearing loss – This condition arises when a problem in the CNS (central nervous system) blocks sound signals from being processed by the brain. Affected individuals can ostensibly hear just fine, but cannot decode or interpret what the speaker is saying. Many cases involve a problem with the individual’s capacity to properly filter competing sounds. For instance, most of us can hold a conversation with street traffic in the background, but individuals with central hearing loss have a difficult time doing so.
Mixed hearing loss – As suggested by the term, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of multiple types of hearing loss – conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Though there are a few other kinds of hearing loss, the combination of these 2 is most common.