Types of hearing loss
Remember that a comprehensive hearing test is the first step in determining why you are experiencing hearing difficulties. An audiologist is the only professional licensed to diagnose hearing disorders. Once hearing is correctly assessed, options for treatment or management can be discussed.
The following are types of hearing loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss:
This type of hearing loss is due to a problem in the outer or middle ear space, which includes the ear canal, the eardrum, or the space behind the eardrum which contains three tiny bones. This type of hearing loss can often be medically treated or corrected, and the patient is referred back to either their primary care provider, or to an ENT (otolaryngologist) for further explanation about treatment. Conductive type hearing loss occurs in approximately 20% of persons with hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss:
The most common type of hearing loss, occurring in nearly 80% of persons, 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. This type of hearing loss cannot be repaired but can very effectively be treated through the use of a hearing aid, or cochlear implant.
Mixed Hearing Loss:
This type of hearing loss involves both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss in the same ear.
An additional note about auditory processing:
Some persons have difficulty understanding speech only in certain situations, such as when they are in background noise, or listening over the telephone or to television. A hearing evaluation by an audiologist will determine if the listening difficulties the person is experiencing is due to hearing loss or auditory processing difficulties. It is important to have the problem correctly identified in order to select the best treatment. A hearing aid may or may not be useful if an auditory processing problem is present. The audiologist will discuss the recommendation for treatment or management of any auditory processing disorder found during the hearing test.