There are a few different types of hearing loss, depending on which part of the auditory pathway has been affected. The hearing loss may be sensorineural, conductive, central, mixed or functional. The first step in developing a treatment plan is to correctly diagnose the type of hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss accounts for more than 90% of the instances in which a hearing aid is worn. It is the result of damage in the inner ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which prevents sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also referred to as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is more often than not irreversible, though breakthroughs in technology have allowed some previously untreatable cases to be improved.
The most common reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are aging, extended exposure to noise, complications with blood circulation to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, medicines that cause injury to the ear, a handful of diseases, genetics and issues with the auditory nerve.
Hearing aids are adequate for most people that have this sort of hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant may help bring back hearing to those for whom a conventional hearing aid is insufficient.
Conductive hearing loss
When sound waves aren’t completely conducted to the interior of the ear through the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. This is very widespread and could be caused by a buildup 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 this type of hearing loss are reversible, presuming there isn’t any irreversible damage to the regions of the middle ear, and with proper treatment the problem usually resolves in a short amount of time. In some instances surgery can help to correct the issue or a hearing aid may be recommended.
Mixed hearing loss
As suggested by the term, mixed hearing loss is a combination of different types of hearing loss – sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Though there are a couple of other kinds of hearing loss, the combination of these two is most common.
Central hearing loss
Central hearing loss arises in situations where a problem in the CNS (central nervous system) prevents sound signals from being processed and interpreted by the brain. The person affected can seemingly hear just fine, but can’t decode or interpret what the speaker is saying. Numerous cases involve a problem with the individual’s ability to properly filter competing sounds. For example, the majority of us can have a conversation with street traffic in the background, but individuals with this problem have a really hard time with this.
Functional hearing loss
An infrequent situation, this type of hearing loss does not have a psysiological explanation. This condition is caused by an emotional or psychological condition in which the person‚Äôs physical ability to hear is normal, however they do not seem to be able to hear.