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What kind of hearing loss do I have?

By January 17, 2024July 8th, 2024No Comments
hand holding an otoscope

Have you ever found yourself asking people to repeat themselves often? Or maybe you’ve noticed that you need to turn up the volume on the TV or radio more than usual to understand the words clearly? 

If so, you might be experiencing hearing loss. 

Hearing loss is a common problem that affects millions of people around the globe. The good news is, there are many ways to manage this condition. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of hearing loss and help you determine which one you may have.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is the most common type of hearing loss. It is caused by damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve responsible for carrying signals to the brain. SNHL is most commonly caused by exposure to loud sounds, but can also be affected by other medical conditions, aging, certain medications, and genetic factors. 

Sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible and cannot be cured. However, it can be managed with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices.

Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss may include difficulty understanding speech, especially in background noise, ringing or buzzing in the ears, and difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds (i.e a woman’s voice, birds chirping, child’s laugh).

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when the sound waves cannot travel properly through the middle ear or outer ear due to damage or a blockage to the ear canal or middle ear. In most cases, this type of hearing loss is temporary and can be caused by earwax buildup, allergies, infections, or trauma to the ear.

Symptoms of conductive hearing loss may include difficulty hearing low-pitched sounds, muffled or distorted sounds, and pain or pressure in the ear.

Mixed Hearing Loss

As the name suggests, mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Management for mixed hearing loss will depend on the most prevalent symptoms.

Auditory Processing Deficits

Even when the ear is functioning properly, there can be problems with processing sound. This is what we call auditory processing deficits (APD), where an individual can hear soft sounds, but sound is not clear, particularly in noise. Individuals with APD may have normal traditional hearing tests but to refer to them as having “normal hearing”, as often occurs, is inaccurate as 

they will demonstrate reduced hearing ability on some other measures of hearing that are not usually completed unless the audiologist specializes in auditory processing.

APD can arise from maturational delays; auditory deprivation (e.g., ear infections, untreated hearing loss), concussions/TBI, blast injuries, aging, or disease/toxins. 

APD can be treated with amplification and/or auditory training, counseling in strategies to enhance coping skills, and referral to other professionals as appropriate.

Determining the Type of Hearing Loss You Have

If you suspect that you have hearing loss, the first thing you need to do is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. 

Audiologists are healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders. 

During your consultation, the audiologist will perform a hearing test to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. Some audiologists perform additional testing called a functional hearing assessment or communication needs assessment that provides more information about hearing/communicating in real world situations like background noise.

Why is it important to identify the type of hearing loss you have?

It is important to identify the type of hearing loss you have because the treatment and management options will depend on your specific type of hearing loss. 

Remember, different types of hearing loss require different forms of management. Knowing the specific type of hearing loss can help audiologists make the most appropriate interventions to improve your hearing and overall quality of life.

Hearing loss is unique for each individual, hence, treatment will also vary. This is why we discourage getting a hearing aid or hearing instrument without consulting an audiologist or getting a hearing test. 

Intervention may involve hearing aids, cochlear implants, auditory training, communication strategies, assistive devices, medication or surgery to correct the underlying condition. 

Audiologists in Osseo, MN

Overall, identifying your type of hearing loss is an essential step in addressing and managing the condition, leading to an improved overall quality of life. It is important to consult with an audiologist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

Audiologists at Hearing Health Clinic can help you diagnose and address hearing loss including auditory processing deficits. Our expert audiologists in Osseo, MN, can help you get your life back on track with the best hearing solutions personalized for your specific needs.