Sensorineural Hearing Loss:
Nearly 80% of persons with hearing loss have what is called sensorineural hearing loss. This hearing loss is due to damage of the tiny hair cells in the cochlea. In rare cases, this type of hearing loss is due to a problem on the auditory nerve itself.
Sensorineural hearing loss typically affects the high-pitched sounds first, making some of the consonants in words disappear to the listener. With this type of hearing loss, often speech is loud enough, but just not clear enough, and the listener may think, "If that person would stop mumbling and speak more clearly, I would understand!" Trouble understanding speech when there are other noises in the room generally creates a lot of difficulty for a person with sensorineural hearing loss. It is common for this type of hearing loss to occur slowly over time, and it is very normal for the person with the hearing loss to not be aware of the increasing loss that they are experiencing. It is often other people who notice this type of hearing loss first.
Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be repaired but may very effectively be treated through the use of a hearing aid, or cochlear implant.
Conductive Hearing Loss:
Conductive hearing loss commonly causes sounds to be quieter to the person than they are to others, but is still clear. This affects nearly 20% of the population dealing with hearing loss. Often times someone with conductive hearing loss feels as though others speak very quietly and if others would, "Just speak louder," they would be able to hear them fine. Persons who (only) suffer with conductive hearing loss may report a sensation that the ear is "plugged" or "stuffy".
This type of hearing loss is caused by a problem in the outer or middle ear space (the ear canal, the eardrum, or the space behind the eardrum containing three tiny bones). This type of hearing loss can sometimes be medically treated or corrected.
Mixed Hearing Loss:
This type of hearing loss involves both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss in the same ear at the same time.
Auditory Processing Disorder:
Though not a type of hearing loss, auditory processing disorder is a condition which can make it difficult to understand speech in certain situations. For example, when there is background noise, or listening over the telephone or to television. In this case, an audiologist can test to determine if the hearing problems are due to auditory processing disorder.
A hearing aid may or may not be useful if an auditory processing disorder is present, and, therefore, it is very important to have a complete hearing test by a licensed audiologist to determine the cause of the hearing loss and the most effective way to help.
Thank you for reading this month's blog! To schedule a hearing test by one of our Doctors of Audiology, please contact our office at 518.324.5707 and don't forget to check out more information about hearing care on our FB page!
Sharon Macner, Au.D.
Doctor of Audiology