Conductive Vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss Test: Everything You Need To Know
If you are experiencing hearing loss symptoms, you may have heard your doctor mention that your hearing loss is either sensorineural or conductive. Because these two kinds of hearing loss have different causes and treatments, it is important to pinpoint which one is responsible for your symptoms. Doctors can choose from various hearing loss tests to distinguish between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and gain crucial details about how your ears and brain are working together.
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a condition caused by a viral infection and is critically serious. Treatment is with corticosteroids that may help reduce cochlea hair swelling. It is a medical emergency that should be treated immediately.;
However, with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss , the prognosis is upbeat. The recovery rate of people who suffer from SSHL is as high as 85%, with a third to two-thirds of recovery time occurring within two-weeks time.
More severe types of Sensorineural Hearing Loss may be attributable to Temporal Bone Fracture, a condition where damage occurs to the temporal bone causing unilateral SNHL and Conductive Hearing Loss. This cause may be due to facial nerve paralysis or intracranial injuries resulting in cerebrospinal fluid leakage. If that is the case, it may require immediate medical and surgical remedies.
Difference Between Sensorineural Hearing Loss Conductive Hearing Loss And Mixed Hearing Loss
Q: What is the difference between sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss?; Are there different treatments for each type?;
A:; Sensorineural hearing loss is hearing loss that stems from either the hair cells of the cochlea , the nerve that runs from the cochlea to the brain, or a combination of both. Sensorineural loss is sometimes referred to as permanent hearing loss because there is no pill, medication, or surgery that can restore the natural hearing.; Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by many things including but not limited to: disease processes, older age, heredity, birth defect, and noise exposure.; Sensorineural hearing loss is treated by the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Mixed hearing loss occurs when a patient has both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss occurring in the same ear.; Treatment for the conductive component may help reduce the severity of the hearing loss but the underlying sensorineural hearing loss will remain.; Treatment for mixed hearing loss includes a combination of first, medical interventions then the use of hearing aids or bone anchored hearing aids to correct the remaining hearing loss.
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Conductive Vs Sensorineural: Can Hearing Loss Improve
If earwax is the culprit, once you get that earwax removed, its likely that your hearing will pop back up into a normal range. If youre diagnosed with hearing loss, your first thought is probably something along the lines of: can hearing loss improve?
The good news is that most people who suffer from conductive hearing loss can look forward to improvements once the underlying issues are resolved.
So if your hearing loss is caused by an infection, or a fluid buildup, or a significant amount of earwax, treatment will improve your overall hearing ability. On the other hand, if you are diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, most treatment options are designed to preserve your hearing and to help you hear in spite of your hearing loss rather than improve it.
Different Types Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be experienced in varying degrees, such as mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe or profound. Additionally, this loss can also vary depending on pitches or frequencies. A series of hearing tests can determine the amount of loss you experience compared to an average of many other adult listeners with typical hearing.
The volume of sounds you hear is measured in decibels , 15-20 dB being the softest whisper and 120 dB being a jet engine. The softest sounds one can hear are called thresholds. Normal hearing thresholds for adults are considered 0-25 dB across the range of frequencies tested. Speech testing is also conducted as a part of this series of evaluations and helps to assess the levels of particular words you can hear clearly. These tests can help determine the type of hearing loss youre experiencing, which can be categorized conductive, sensorineural or mixed.
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What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss. It is the result of damage to your inner ear or your auditory nerve. SNHL is a permanent hearing loss, and in most cases medicine or surgery will not fix it. Your ability to hear may be improved with the use of hearing aids, or in some cases a cochlear device.
Some of the more common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- The natural aging process
- Exposure to loud noises
Less common causes of SNHL include:
- Viral infections such as mumps, meningitis, measles or scarlet fever.
Causes Of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The most common forms of hearing loss stem from age, exposure to loud noise, and hereditary or genetic makeup. Damage to the inner ear can cause permanent hearing loss.;
Some of the most recurring forms of hearing loss are caused by the following:;
- Aging : Degenerative hearing loss due to aging occurs for one of every three people over 65
- Noise: Exposure to sudden or prolonged loud noise can permanently damage cells and nerves in the cochlea
- Disease: Bacterial and Viral infections
- Head Trauma or sudden air pressure changes, such as plane descent
- Autoimmune ear disease: a rare condition that affects only 1% of 28 million people
- Otosclerosis: Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear that impacts the hearing ability
- Genetic and Hereditary conditions
Less common forms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss can occur from other underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and certain types of disease and cancers. Meniere’s disease is a rare type of illness that may cause SNHL in adults. Meniere’s disease symptoms are; A fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss associated with hearing loss, vertigo, and ringing in the ears, a condition known as Tinnitus.;
Tinnitus is a condition that affects upward of 20% of all people, whether suffering permanent or transitory hearing loss. It is a symptom of an underlying condition, not a disease in itself. Symptoms are a constant buzz or ringing in the ear and may come and go and subside in time.
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What Is A Conductive Hearing Loss
A conductive hearing loss is a hearing loss where the ears ability to conduct sound from the outer ear and middle ear into the inner ear is blocked or reduced. In this way, a conductive hearing loss differs from a sensorineural hearing loss, where the causes of the hearing loss are found in the inner ear.
Definition: A conductive hearing loss is when the cause of the hearing loss is to be found in the process of conducting sound from the outer ear through the middle ear into the inner ear.
A conductive hearing loss can have different degrees: mild, moderate, severe or profound.
You can have a conductive hearing loss in just one ear or in both ears
Hearing Loss In Adults
People over age 50 may experience gradual hearing loss over the years due to age-related changes in the ear or auditory nerve. The medical term for age-related hearing loss is presbycusis. Having presbycusis may make it hard for a person to tolerate loud sounds or to hear what others are saying.
Other causes of hearing loss in adults include:
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What Causes Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss happens when the natural movement of sound through the external ear or middle ear is blocked, and the full sound does not reach the inner ear. Conductive loss from the exterior ear structures may result from:
- EarwaxYour body normally produces earwax. In some cases, it can collect and completely block your ear canal causing hearing loss.
- Swimmers earSwimmers ear, also called otitis externa, is an infection in the ear canal often related to water exposure, or cotton swab use.
- Foreign bodyThis is typically a problem in children who may put common objects including beads and beans in their ears but can also be seen in adults most often by accident, such as when a bug gets into the ear.
- Bony lesionsThese are non-cancerous growths of bone in the ear canal often linked with cold water swimming.
- Defects of the external ear canal, called aural atresiaThis is most commonly noted at birth and often seen with defects of the outer ear structure, called microtia.
- Middle ear fluid or infection
- Ear drum problems
Conductive loss associated with middle ear structures include:
Symptoms Of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
As with Conductive Hearing Loss, soft sounds may be difficult to hear, and loud noises may be muted or unclear. However, clear signs that hearing loss may be more of the SNHL variety versus Conductive Hearing Loss can exhibit the following:
- Speech may be difficult to hear or may appear muted in loud rooms, making it difficult to follow and understand
- The difficulty can differentiate conversation when more than one individual is speaking. Words may be jumbled and unclear.
- Consistent Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, may occur.
- High-pitched sounds and words, especially from women or children, maybe incomprehensible
- Soft-sounds in words such as “th” or an “s” sound may blur and be unclear.
- A sense of vertigo or lack of balance, dizziness
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The Prevalence Of Hearing Impairment In Germany
According to epidemiological studies, the prevalence of hearing impairment that is severe enough to require treatment is about 19% in Germany . This figure is arrived at when hearing impairment is operationally defined as a diminution of hearing ability by at least 40 dB in five test frequencies from 0.5 to 4 kHz. Thus, in 2001, there were about 13.2 million persons with hearing impairment living in Germany. The actual number may be even higher, however, because children up to age 14 were not included in the study, and also because the WHO sets a lower threshold for the definition of hearing impairment.
Congenital bilateral hearing loss
The prevalence of congenital, permanent, bilateral hearing loss is 1.2 per 1000 neonates.
No study has yet addressed the question of the relative prevalence of the various types of hearing impairment .
The most common type of hearing impairment in childhood is transient conductive hearing loss due to a tympanic effusion. 10% to 30% of children suffer from this problem before their third birthday, with a prevalence as high as 8%. Congenital, permanent, bilateral hearing loss is much rarer, with a prevalence of 1.2 per 1000 children. In adulthood, the most common type of hearing impairment is the sensorineural hearing loss of old age , which affects 40% of all persons aged 65 or older. The next most common types are permanent conductive or combined hearing loss due to chronic otitis media and hearing impairment due to acoustic trauma .
These Are The Types Of Hearing Issues Associated With The Ear And The Hearing Nerve Itself Not The Brain
Its important to know what type of hearing loss someone has and requires a trained professional to determine with a hearing test. This is not something a hearing screening or;hearing test app;can accurately measure. And, as an audiologist, I will always repeat a hearing test done by someone who I dont already trust their diagnostic skills .;Sorting out what type and how much hearing loss someone has in which ear, at which frequencies can sometimes be complicated and can dramatically alter treatment options and hearing aid settings. If you are looking for a good audiologist in your area, you can;read more here.This is not to say getting a free hearing test just to see if things are normal or not is a bad thing its not!
Hearing screenings and free checks are great for knowing IF you need a full test. You just have to know where to get a full test if you need one. The good news is, insurance should cover a hearing test, but it might just require;a referral from;primary care. . If your primary care doctor doesnt know a good audiologist to send you to send them to my site or contact me;to find someone near you.
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What Hearing Aid Is Best For Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The best hearing aids for sensorineural hearing loss will typically fall into two categories:
Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid: This is a hearing aid in which the bulk of the mechanics are worn around and behind the ear . BTE hearing aids are popular with children and those who suffer from severe hearing loss .
Inside-the-Ear Hearing Aid: Among adults who are diagnosed with minimal to moderate hearing loss, inside-the-ear hearing aids are popular because they are quite discrete. ITE hearing aids also cut down on wind noise transmitted to the wearer, which make them more reliable in outdoor settings.
There will be some who find little relief with either BTE or ITE hearing aids. In those cases, a cochlear implantwhich bypasses the stereocilia altogether and transmits sound directly to the auditory nervemight be the way to go.
The best hearing aid for someone with sensorineural hearing loss is going to be the one that most suits their individual needs, so youll probably want to make this decision in consultation with a trusted hearing professional.
Page medically reviewed by Kevin St. Clergy, Audiologist, on April 16, 2020.
What Is The Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The sensorineural hearing loss means, damage to the hair cells in your inner ear and to the nerve pathways which is lead to the inner ear of the brain. While most of the sensorineural hearing loss is age-related. Many people with sensorineural hearing loss report that they can hear, but they cannot understand speech. This is especially true in the presence of background noise, and it can be frustrating.
There are other possible causes of this hearing loss
- Open to loud sounds,
- Ototoxic drugs, and some infectious diseases like Menieres Disease,
- Head injuries,
Acquired sensorineural hearing loss
This hearing loss occurs after birth. Below some Causes:
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Types Of Hearing Impairment
Your hearing is possible when soundwaves are collected, changed to vibrations, and conducted as impulses to the brain.
Each of the ears three partsthe external, middle, and inneris responsible for a part of that process.
The external ear includes the outer part we can see and the ear canal that leads to the eardrum. Its responsible for collecting and conducting the soundwaves.
The middle ear is a closed chamber behind the eardrum that includes bones called ossicles that transmit sound vibrations to the inner ear.
The inner ear contains sound receptors in the form of microscopic hair cells that are bathed in a fluid. Movement of the ossicles stimulates the hair cells, which in turn activate the hearing nerve endings that send an electrical impulse to the brain.
Causes Of Conductive Hearing Loss
With Conductive Hearing Loss, most treatments are through minor procedures and antibiotics and antifungal medications. These are often temporary hearing loss types that don’t require too much attention to correct the issue.;
Some of the most common causes of Conductive Hearing Loss can be attributable to the following:
- A malformed ear canal or other ear structure
- Otosclerosis – a genetic disorder that affects the small bone in the middle ear, limiting its vibration when stimulated by sound
- Impaired Eustachian tube function;
- Foreign objects
- Tumors in or around the ear
- Ear wax – common causes of blockage are from cotton swabs being inserted too far into the ear canal, pushing the wax deeper into the canal and creating blocking
- Allergies and colds that trap water in the middle ear
- Infections in the ear canal or the surrounding area
One or more causes of Conductive Hearing Loss and any combination can lead to discomfort or pain. Typically younger children are more susceptible to Conductive Hearing Loss due to viral and bacterial infections. However, adults who participate in activities with exposure risks associated with surfing or open water diving are prone to illness at a higher rate than the general population.;
In more severe Conductive Hearing Loss cases, treatment may require surgery, especially in cases of a genetic disorder, malformation, or head trauma.;
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Conductive Vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Damage to your auditory nerve or the structures of your inner ear can lead to SNHL. This type of hearing loss leads to problems converting sound vibrations to neural signals that the brain can interpret.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cant pass through your outer or middle ear. The following can cause conductive hearing loss.
- fluid buildup
- obstruction by foreign objects
- deformations in the outer or middle ear
Both types of hearing loss can cause similar symptoms. However, people with conductive hearing loss often hear muffled sounds while people with SNHL hear muffled and; distorted soundsTrusted Source .
Some people experience a mix of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Hearing loss is considered mixed if there are problems both before and after the cochlea.
Its important to get a proper diagnosis if youre dealing with hearing loss. In some cases, its possible to regain your hearing. The quicker you receive treatment, the more likely you are to minimize damage to the structures of your ear.
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