Understanding the Different Types of Hearing Loss

by | Mar 19, 2021 | Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is common, but knowledge of it could be more widespread

Despite hearing loss being such a prevalent issue in the lives of Americans, our knowledge of hearing loss as a society is still somewhat limited. Of the approximately 330 million people who live in the United States, it is estimated that nearly 50 million of us have some degree of hearing loss. That is roughly 15% of our total population. 

Presumably, these folks are experiencing not only varying degrees of hearing loss, but also have access to different types of testing, treatment, and ongoing care. For professional hearing care specialists like us, this presents an important opportunity to provide our community the most-up-to-date educational information, the most comprehensive testing strategies, and the most effective technology solutions available. 

Knowledge is power, and in this case, knowledge can lead to more people making better choices sooner about taking control of their hearing health. On average, it takes people about five to seven years after suspecting they have a hearing loss before doing anything about it. 

So let’s start with the basics by talking about the different types of hearing loss that people can experience. 

There are different types of hearing loss — do you know them?

In the medical and hearing care realm, it is agreed that there are four distinct types of hearing loss that a person can experience: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that is caused by an obstruction of the outer or middle ear. These obstructions can include earwax, fluid (like those cause by allergies or the common cold), ear infections, benign tumors, holes or perforations of the eardrum, objects lodged in the ear, or even issues in a person’s anatomical structure, such as deformations of the ear canal. 

How conductive hearing loss is treated

Conductive hearing loss is different from most other types of hearing loss, as it is often effectively treated through the use of prescription medicine or surgery, depending on the cause of the loss. 

Sensorineural hearing loss 

Sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form of hearing loss, is typically caused by damage to the inner ear or damage to the nerve pathways that connect your inner ear to your brain.

The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include age, exposure to loud noises (both short- and long-term exposure), ototoxic medication use, a genetic predisposition to hearing loss, natural inner ear deformation, and even blows to the head.  

How sensorineural hearing loss is treated

In the vast majority of cases, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated with surgery or medicine. Hearing aids can be used to help those experiencing sensorineural hearing loss to hear better, but this technology is a treatment, not a cure. 

Proper testing, diagnosis, and treatment through appropriately fit technology can help prolong a person’s hearing health while delaying the rate at which their hearing diminishes. 

Mixed hearing loss

As you might suspect, mixed hearing loss refers to a person experiencing a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Perhaps there is damage to the inner ear or its nerve pathways (the sensorineural loss) in addition to potential damage or blockage in the outer or middle ear. 

How mixed hearing loss is treated

As described above, the conductive hearing loss can often be treated and cured through the use of prescription medications or surgery, whereas the effects of the sensorineural hearing loss cannot be cured, but can be aided through the proper fit of hearing technology.

Colorado Ear Care: The evolution of hearing care

When we started this practice, we did so in an effort to help strengthen the family relationships in our community by delivering the best hearing care possible to all who need it. This means we’re seeking to offer everyone in our care life-changing solutions — not just sell hearing aids. That’s how we have earned the trust of so many physicians in our area, and that’s how we pledge to serve you, too. 

In addition to offering educational information to you, your friends, and neighbors, we strive to offer the most comprehensive approach to testing, transparency, and treatment options around, whether you’re in our care for hearing loss, tinnitus, or even dizziness issues. 

Suspect that you or a loved one has a hearing loss? Don’t delay!

Contact Colorado Ear Care TODAY to learn how we can help you hear your very best.  

Talk with one of our friendly hearing and balance professionals today.