Hearing loss is a common issue, treated at Audiologie Centre-Ouest facilities all over the world every year. While it is often attributed to aging, getting older—on its own—is not necessarily always the cause of hearing loss. Indeed, hearing loss can be caused by many different variables. There are three basic types of hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.
CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS
Conductive hearing loss is generally the result of problems with the ear drum or ear canal; with the little bones of the middle ear—the malleus, the incus, and the stapes—or the middle ear in general. More broadly, though, conductive hearing loss can be the result of:
- Malformation of the various structures in the outer ear, middle ear, or ear canal
- Infection (specifically otitis media: fluid accumulation in the middle ear that interferes with movement of the ossicles and eardrum)
- Fluid in the middle ear (typically from a cold)
- Benign tumor
- Poor Eustachian tube function
- Ear canal infection
- Otosclerosis (genetics)
Depending on the nature of conductive hearing loss, relatively simple surgery can often correct the problem. Of course, in the case of infection, medication might be in order; and for other patients, various devices can improve hearing ability.
SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS
Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of problems occurring in the inner ear. It is also known as nerve-related hearing loss. This condition can be caused by:
- Head trauma
- Exposure to loud noises
- Virus or other disease
- Aging (also known as presbycusis)
- Autoimmune inner ear disease(s)
- Malformation within the inner ear
- Meniere’s Disease
Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss can be complex as the treatments vary greatly depending upon the cause of the condition. Overall, though, treatment for sensorineural hearing loss can be treated with medical therapy, corticosteroids, drug therapy, surgery, etc.
MIXED HEARING LOSS
Mixed hearing loss is the category of hearing loss diagnosed when a doctor determines there is some combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means there is probably both damage to the outer or middle ear as well as to the inner ear—known as the cochlea—or the auditory nerve itself.
Obviously, the causes of mixed hearing loss vary depending upon the diagnosis. Accordingly, the treatment for mixed hearing loss will largely depend upon which underlying conductive hearing loss and/or sensorineural hearing loss causes have been determined.