There are several different types of hearing loss, depending on which part of the auditory has been impaired. The hearing loss may be sensorineural, conductive, mixed, functional or central. The initial step in creating a treatment plan is to correctly diagnose the kind of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
In situations where sound waves aren’t adequately conducted to the interior of the ear through the parts of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss arises. Conductive hearing loss is rather common and can be caused by a buildup of ear wax, an accumulation of moisture 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 blockages in the ear canal.
The majority of cases of this type of hearing loss are reversible, assuming there is no permanent damage to the regions of the middle ear, and with treatment the issue usually clears up fairly quickly. For some patients surgery can help to correct the problem or a hearing aid may be recommended.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This type of hearing loss accounts for more than 90 percent of the instances in which a hearing aid is used. It is due to damage in the interior of the ear or to the acoustic nerve, which keeps sound signals from reaching the brain. Also known as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is generally speaking permanent, though breakthroughs in technology have enabled some previously untreatable cases to be improved.
The most common reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, extended exposure to noise, problems with blood circulation to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, medications that cause damage to the ear, a small number of diseases, genetics and issues with the auditory nerve.
Hearing aids are adequate for most people who have this sort of hearing loss, but in more severe cases, a cochlear implant can help bring back hearing to those individuals for whom a standard hearing aid is not enough.
Functional hearing loss
A rare situation, this type of hearing loss is not physical. This condition is due to an emotional or psychological condition in which the person’s physical ability to hear is found to be normal, but they are not able to hear.
Mixed hearing loss
As suggested by the term, mixed hearing loss is a combination 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 two is most common.
Central hearing loss
Central hearing loss arises when a problem in the central nervous system prevents sound signals from being processed by the brain. The person affected can seemingly hear perfectly well, but cannot decode or interpret what is being said. Many cases involve a problem with the individual’s ability to properly filter rival sounds. For example, most of us can hold a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but individuals with this problem have a difficult time doing so.