Types Of Hearing Loss
A hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear or auditory system is not working in the usual way.
Outer EarThe outer ear is made up of:
- the part we see on the sides of our heads, known as pinna
- the ear canal
- the eardrum, sometimes called the tympanic membrane, which separates the outer and middle ear
Middle EarThe middle ear is made up of:
- the eardrum
- three small bones called ossicles that send the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear
Inner EarThe inner ear is made up of:
- the snail shaped organ for hearing known as the cochlea
- the semicircular canals that help with balance
- the nerves that go to the brain
Auditory NerveThis nerve sends sound information from the ear to the brain.
Auditory SystemThe auditory pathway processes sound information as it travels from the ear to the brain so that our brain pathways are part of our hearing.
There are four types of hearing loss:
- Conductive Hearing LossHearing loss caused by something that stops sounds from getting through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can often be treated with medicine or surgery.
- Sensorineural Hearing LossHearing loss that occurs when there is a problem in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works.
- Mixed Hearing LossHearing loss that includes both a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss.
The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound:
- Mild Hearing LossA person with a mild hearing loss may hear some speech sounds but soft sounds are hard to hear.
Causes Of Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss can be caused by the following:
- Fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies.
- Ear infection, or otitis media. Otitis is a term used to mean ear infection, and media means middle.
- Poor Eustachian tube function. The Eustachian tube connects your middle ear and your nose. Fluid in the middle ear can drain out through this tube. Fluid can stay in the middle ear if the tube does not work correctly.
- A hole in your eardrum.
- Benign tumors. These tumors are not cancer but can block the outer or middle ear.
- Earwax , or cerumen, stuck in your ear canal.
- Infection in the ear canal, called external otitis. You may hear this called swimmers ear.
- An object stuck in your outer ear. An example might be if your child put a pebble in his ear when playing outside.
- A problem with how the outer or middle ear is formed. Some people are born without an outer ear. Some may have a deformed ear canal or have a problem with the bones in their middle ear.
Learn about other types of hearing loss:
What Are The Different Styles Of Hearing Aids
Behind-the-ear aids: Most parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear the case is connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. This style is often chosen for young children because it can accommodate various earmold types, which need to be replaced as the child grows. Also, the BTE aids are easy to be cleaned and handled, and are relatively sturdy.
“Mini” BTE aids: A new type of BTE aid called the mini BTE aid. It also fits behind/on the ear, but is smaller. A very thin, almost invisible tube is used to connect the aid to the ear canal. Mini BTEs may have a comfortable ear piece for insertion , but may also use a traditional earmold. Mini BTEs allow not only reduced occlusion or “plugged up” sensations in the ear canal, but also increase comfort, reduce feedback and address cosmetic concerns for many users.
In-the-ear aids: All parts of the hearing aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. The ITE aids are larger than the in-the-canal and completely-in-the-canal aids , and for some people may be easier to handle than smaller aids.
In-the-canal aids and completely-in-the-canal aids: These hearing aids are contained in tiny cases that fit partly or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest hearing aids available and offer cosmetic and some listening advantages. However, their small size may make them difficult to handle and adjust for some people.
Recommended Reading: Sign Language Hungry
Causes Of Mixed Hearing Loss
Anything that causes a conductive hearing loss or SNHL can lead to a mixed hearing loss. An example would be if you have a hearing loss because you work around loud noises and you have fluid in your middle ear. The two together might make your hearing worse than it would be with only one problem.
Learn about other types of hearing loss:
Hearing Impairment In Toddlers And Children
These signs might become more evident in slightly older children:
- The child is behind others the same age in oral communication.
- The child keeps saying âWhat?â or âPardon?â
- The child talks in a very loud voice, and tends to produce louder-than-normal noises.
- When the child speaks, their utterances are not clear.
You May Like: What Is The Best Ear Wax Removal Tool
Final Words On Types Of Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment can make the world a lot harder to navigate. It can be more difficult to communicate with others and make you feel disoriented and tired as you try to live a normal life.
Thanks to modern medicine and technology, there have been improvements in the options available. Thats terrific news for people, providing hope in hearing normally once again.
Tips: How To Talk With Someone With Hearing Loss
Here are some tips you can use when talking with someone who has a hearing problem:
- In a group, include people with hearing loss in the conversation.
- Find a quiet place to talk to help reduce background noise, especially in restaurants and at social gatherings.
- Stand in good lighting and use facial expressions or gestures to give clues.
- Face the person and speak clearly. Maintain eye contact.
- Speak a little more loudly than normal, but dont shout. Try to speak slowly, but naturally.
- Speak at a reasonable speed.
- Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while speaking.
- Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
- Try to make sure only one person talks at a time.
- Be patient. Stay positive and relaxed.
- Ask how you can help.
You May Like: Compilot Pairing
Genetics Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has many causes. 50% to 60% of hearing loss in babies is due to genetic causes. There are also a number of things in the environment that can cause hearing loss. 25% or more of hearing loss in babies is due to environmental causes such as maternal infections during pregnancy and complications after birth. Sometimes both genes and environment work together to cause hearing loss. For example, there are some medicines that can cause hearing loss, but only in people who have certain mutations in their genes.
Genes contain the instructions that tell the cells of peoples bodies how to grow and work. For example, the instructions in genes control what color a persons eyes will be. There are many genes that are involved in hearing. Sometimes, a gene does not form in the expected manner. This is called a mutation. Some mutations run in families and others do not. If more than one person in a family has hearing loss, it is said to be familial. That is, it runs in the family.
About 70% of all mutations causing hearing loss are non-syndromic. This means that the person does not have any other symptoms. About 30% of the mutations causing hearing loss are syndromic. This means that the person has other symptoms besides hearing loss. For example, some people with hearing loss are also blind.
Signs Of Hearing Loss
Some people have a hearing problem and dont realize it. You should see your doctor if you:
- Have trouble hearing over the telephone
- Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
- Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
- Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
- Have a problem hearing because of background noise
- Think that others seem to mumble
- Cant understand when women and children speak to you
Don’t Miss: Phonak Compilot Ii Pairing
Unilateral And Bilateral Deafness
Single-sided deafness , or unilateral deafness, refers to hearing impairment in just one ear, while bilateral deafness is hearing impairment in both.
People with a unilateral hearing impairment may find it hard to carry on a conversation if the other person is on their affected side. Pinpointing the source of a sound may be more difficult, when compared with those who can hear well in both ears. Understanding what others are saying when there is a lot of environmental noise might be hard.
With little to no background noise, a person with unilateral deafness has virtually the same communicative abilities as a person with functional hearing in both ears.
Babies born with unilateral deafness tend to have developmental speech delays. They may find it harder to concentrate when they go to school. Social activities may be more challenging than it is for children with no hearing problems.
The symptoms of hearing impairment depend on its cause. Some people are born without being able to hear, while others suddenly become deaf due to an accident or illness. For most people, symptoms of deafness progress gradually over time.
Types Of Hearing Tests
Youve made that step to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to learn more about your own hearing health. Good for you! Before you go, it may be helpful to know what to expect during the exam.
There are numerous types of evaluations that your audiologist may choose to perform. The following are eight common types of hearing loss tests which may be considered. Your audiologist will probably not conduct all of these tests, he or she will determine which method is most appropriate for you.
1. Audiometry In an audiometry test, your hearing is measured using a range of frequencies, from low to high. The American Hearing Research Foundation reported that these frequencies typically range from 250 to 8,000 Hz. This can help determine which frequencies you hear at best.
2. Tympanometry To measure your middle ear function, a tympanometry test evaluates the stiffness of your eardrum. According to the AHRF, this type of test can help providers to diagnose a variety of issues, including fluid in the middle ear, negative middle ear pressure, disruption of the ossicles, tympanic membrane perforation, and otosclerosis.
A hearing test is the first step in determining if you have hearing loss.
8. Otoacoustic Emissions An otoacoustic emissions test uses a probe placed in the ear canal to measure the nearly inaudible sounds created by your inner ear in response to external noises. If these sounds are not produced, its a sign that you have hearing loss.
Read Also: Clearflex Hearing Aids
What Research Is Being Done On Hearing Aids
Researchers are looking at ways to apply new signal processing strategies to the design of hearing aids. Signal processing is the method used to modify normal sound waves into amplified sound that is the best possible match to the remaining hearing for a hearing aid user. NIDCD-funded researchers also are studying how hearing aids can enhance speech signals to improve understanding.
In addition, researchers are investigating the use of computer-aided technology to design and manufacture better hearing aids. Researchers also are seeking ways to improve sound transmission and to reduce noise interference, feedback, and the occlusion effect. Additional studies focus on the best ways to select and fit hearing aids in children and other groups whose hearing ability is hard to test.
Another promising research focus is to use lessons learned from animal models to design better microphones for hearing aids. NIDCD-supported scientists are studying the tiny fly Ormia ochracea because its ear structure allows the fly to determine the source of a sound easily. Scientists are using the flys ear structure as a model for designing miniature directional microphones for hearing aids. These microphones amplify the sound coming from a particular direction , but not the sounds that arrive from other directions. Directional microphones hold great promise for making it easier for people to hear a single conversation, even when surrounded by other noises and voices.
When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you’re having problems with your hearing, or your child is showing signs of hearing difficulty. If you lose your hearing suddenly, in one or both ears, you must see your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP can check for any problems and may refer you to an audiologist or an ENT surgeon for further tests.
You can also visit the Action on Hearing Loss website for an online hearing test.
Read more about diagnosing hearing loss
Which Hearing Aid Will Work Best For Me
The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the kind and severity of your hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are generally recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing in both ears also will help you understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.
You and your audiologist should select a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Price is also a key consideration because hearing aids range from hundreds to several thousand dollars. Similar to other equipment purchases, style and features affect cost. However, dont use price alone to determine the best hearing aid for you. Just because one hearing aid is more expensive than another does not necessarily mean that it will better suit your needs.
A hearing aid will not restore your normal hearing. With practice, however, a hearing aid will increase your awareness of sounds and their sources. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so select one that is convenient and easy for you to use. Other features to consider include parts or services covered by the warranty, estimated schedule and costs for maintenance and repair, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid companys reputation for quality and customer service.
Natural Remedies For Hearing Loss
- Ginkgo biloba: People who are suffering from nerve diseases can take the herb, approx 60 mg three times a day. It increases cerebral and blood flow.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is being used for the treatment of tinnitus or excess earwax. It is a method that can help in a sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
- Complete diet: Add rich antioxidants food in your diet like berries, kale, pumpkin, and squash which will improve your deafness.
Also Check: How To Treat Ear Infection During Pregnancy
Do All Hearing Aids Work The Same Way
Hearing aids work differently depending on the electronics used. The two main types of electronics are analog and digital.
Analog aids convert sound waves into electrical signals, which are amplified. Analog/adjustable hearing aids are custom built to meet the needs of each user. The aid is programmed by the manufacturer according to the specifications recommended by your audiologist. Analog/programmable hearing aids have more than one program or setting. An audiologist can program the aid using a computer, and you can change the program for different listening environmentsfrom a small, quiet room to a crowded restaurant to large, open areas, such as a theater or stadium. Analog/programmable circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids. Analog aids usually are less expensive than digital aids.
Digital aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, similar to the binary code of a computer, before amplifying them. Because the code also includes information about a sounds pitch or loudness, the aid can be specially programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry gives an audiologist more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a users needs and to certain listening environments. These aids also can be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction. Digital circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids.
How Can Noise Damage Our Hearing
To understand how loud noises can damage our hearing, we have to understand how we hear. Hearing depends on a series of events that change sound waves in the air into electrical signals. Our auditory nerve then carries these signals to the brain through a complex series of steps.
Stereocilia perch atop sensory hair cells in the inner ear.
: Yoshiyuki Kawashima
Also Check: How To Say Hungry In Sign Language
Hearing Loss: A Common Problem For Older Adults
On this page:
Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. People with hearing loss may find it hard to have conversations with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctors advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms.
Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing. But, some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing.
Older people who cant hear well may become depressed, or they may withdraw from others because they feel frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Sometimes, older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they dont hear well.
Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse. If you have a hearing problem, see your doctor. Hearing aids, special training, certain medicines, and surgery are some of the treatments that can help.