Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing losses occur when sound is not conducted efficiently though the ear canal, ear drum or middle ear. People usually experience a decrease in volume, due to the disruption of the transmission of the sound. This type of loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on its cause. Some examples of these are: foreign object in the ear canal (wax or other), perforation or damage to the eardrum, middle ear infections, injury or disease of the small bones in the middle ear, etc. Regardless of the cause, further medical investigation is often required to determine the best course of treatment.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing losses occur due to damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the hearing nerve. People typically notice a reduction in volume, a distortion in clarity and sometimes a greater sensitivity to loud noises. Some examples of causes of SNHL are aging, exposure to loud noise, viral or bacterial infections and medication. Since this type of hearing loss is typically permanent, the best solution is often amplification or in other words, hearing aids. It is also important to treat it sooner rather than later, to keep stimulating the hearing structures and the brain. Simply put, the sooner it is treated, the better!
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing losses occur when someone has a combination of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss. As an example, someone who has a disorder of the middle ear bones and an age-related hearing loss may have a mixed hearing loss. For some, further medical investigation is needed. For others, it can be treated as if it was a permanent hearing loss, therefore hearing aids can be recommended as part of the rehabilitative solution.
Unilateral Hearing Loss (hearing is normal in one ear only)
A unilateral hearing loss is not classified as a type of hearing loss. However, it is not something to dismiss! A lot of people who have hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other, can experience many hearing difficulties in their daily life (speech at a distance, background noise, localizing sounds, detecting speech in the “bad” ear, etc.) It is also common for these people not to report it, which is unfortunate as the loss often requires further medical investigation. It is also common for people to believe that nothing can be done to improve this type of hearing situation. This is false. There is almost always something that can be done to help better one’s hearing.
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