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.
Sensorineural And Conductive Hearing Loss
Basically, the difference between conductive and sensory hearing impairment is due to the disturbance caused in the specific part.
Lets get a brief knowledge about each in the aspects of their specific causes, complications, and treatment methods.
Following is the table showing the difference between Conductive and Sensorineural hearing loss:
|Conductive Hearing Loss||Sensorineural Hearing Loss|
Now we are going to discuss the hearing deficiency condition in different measures of decibels in the table below:
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:
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The State Of The Evidence For Treatments Of Hearing Impairment
Randomized trials have been performed on middle-ear surgery and on the provision of implantable hearing aids and cochlear implants. Poorer evidence is available from clinical trials on the pharmacotherapy of acute inner-ear disorders, in particular sudden sensorineural hearing loss. It can now be said that nearly every kind of permanent hearing loss is treatable.
How The Ear And Hearing System Works
To better understand different types of hearing loss its important to first understand how our hearing system works.
There are three major parts of the ear: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Sound waves travel through the outer ear and cause the eardrum to vibrate. The ear drum is connected to tiny bones in the middle ear. Therefore, when the eardrum vibrates due to sound waves striking it, the tiny bones start moving which causes parts of the liquid in the inner ear to move. These movements differ according to the loudness and pitch of the sound and are detected by the auditory nerve that carries this information to the brain. In the brain this information is processed so that we can recognise it as sound. In short, sound waves set parts of our hearing system into motion that eventually trigger electrical signals to be carried from the cochlear to the brain via the auditory nerve.
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Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Permanent
Yes, unfortunately a sensorineural hearing loss is permanent as the hair cell in the inner ear cannot be repaired or replaced. And regardless of whether it is a bilateral or unilateral hearing loss the hearing does not recover fully or partly over time or by itself. The hearing that is lost is lost permanently. An age-related hearing loss, for example, typically worsens over time.
Can a sensorineural hearing loss be cured? In most cases unfortunately not. A sensorineural hearing loss is normally treated with hearing aids or hearing implants. Certain types of sudden sensorineural hearing losses can in some cases be cured but here it is important to seek medical help immediately.
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.
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Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Curable
Lets cut to the chase a bit: sensorineural hearing loss is not a curable condition. Its natural to wonder if it isto hope and wish that it might bewhen you hear this diagnosis. There are treatments that can help you cope with sensorineural hearing loss and live your life in a full way, but theres no complete cure.
Conductive hearing loss is curable in many cases the obstruction is removed, and voila! But the causes of sensorineural hearing loss can be a bithairier, going well beyond a simple obstructive mass blocking the sounds.
When the tiny sound-sensing hairs in your ear, called stereocilia, suffer enough damage, they become incapable of detecting and transmitting sounds. There are no known therapies that can repair damaged stereocilia. Whats more, this damage tends to occur slowly and over time, making it difficult to spot early without making an intentional effort. But there are treatments available that can help you preserve your hearing, even if the hearing loss itself is not curable.
Central Auditory Processing Disorders:
Auditory Processing Disorders , also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder is the reduced or impaired ability to discriminate, recognize or comprehend complex sounds, such as those used in words, even though the persons hearing is normal. For example, understanding boat for coat or the not being able to discriminate the difference in sounds between sh and ch It is a complex problem that affects about 5% to 7% of school-aged children and it is twice as often diagnosed in boys than in girls.
Although it is difficult to understand, APD is not a problem with hearing per se. The problem lies in the hearing process. In children/adults with APD these electrical signals that come from the sound waves into the ear and are sent to the brain arrive with a delay or distortion, which makes learning and memorizing very difficult.
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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.
What Are The Treatment Options
Unfortunately, as yet, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be cured. It can be both congenital and acquired later in life. It is associated with damage to the tiny hair cells of the cochlea or inner ear or nerve pathways leading to the brain. The hair cells do not regenerate or reproduce, which makes them extremely challenging to treat and in most cases impossible.
Conductive hearing loss is treatable and can be reversible either with medication or surgically.
While some hearing conditions can be helped with surgical intervention or medications, others can be alleviated with the use of a hearing aid or cochlear implant for more severe cases. Your audiologist can recommend the most efficient treatment for your individual situation as well as a suitable hearing aid if one is needed. One of the most popular hearing devices is a behind the ear hearing aid that is powerful enough to help people with mild to profound hearing loss.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss impacts how well you hear sounds.
Generally, people with conductive hearing loss have difficulty hearing sounds at low volumes. This can lead to turning the sound up on headphones or on televisions and speakers.
Additional symptoms of conductive hearing loss include:
- sudden hearing loss
Hearing loss is diagnosed by a specialist called an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Theyll ask questions about your general health history and about your hearing loss. Youll have tests to determine what type of hearing loss you have and what the cause might be.
A hearing test called an audiogram is one of the first steps in a hearing loss diagnosis. This test can determine if your hearing loss is conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. It can also determine how severe your hearing loss is.
Sometimes this test will be enough to confirm a diagnosis. When you need other tests done, they might include:
- CT scans, MRI scans, or other imaging tests. These tests allow the ENT to see the structure of your ear.
- Tympanometry. This test measures pressure in your middle ear and detects the movement of your eardrum.
- Acoustic reflex. An acoustic reflex test measures the movement of your ear muscles in response to sounds.
- Audiometric tests. Youll listen to sounds and words through headphones and report what you heard for this test.
- Static acoustic measures. This test can detect a hole in your eardrum.
When treatment is required, options include:
- having frequent ear infections
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
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What Is Mixed Hearing Loss
Some people have a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This may happen, for example, if someone has age-related hearing loss, then suffers trauma to the eardrum or other outer or middle ear parts. If you have mixed hearing loss, your doctor can recommend which type is to be treated first in order to maximize your chances of success.
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 .
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Symptoms Of A Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Typically, a sensorineural hearing loss develops gradually and slowly becomes worse and worse. It does not happen from day to another unless it is a sudden sensorineural hearing loss . In this way, we often do not notice that our hearing has becomes worse.
But if it has become more difficult to hear voices in places with background noise, e.g. at parties, restaurants or family gatherings, or it has become more difficult to hear or understand females or childrens voices, you might have a sensorineural hearing loss. Problems hearing soft or high sounds such as the clock ticking, the refrigerator humming or the birds singing may also be an indication of a sensorineural hearing loss.
If you are not sure whether you are suffering from SNHL, you can find more information about the general signs of hearing loss.
If you think that you might have a sensorineural hearing loss, we recommend that you get your hearing checked by a hearing professional.
What Are Cochlear Implants
Cochlear implants are electrical devices surgically inserted into the inner ear. Users wear a small microphone behind their ear that converts sound waves into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is then transmitted to the implant within the ear which stimulates the auditory nerve allowing the user to hear. Therefore,cochlear implants allow people to hear despite damage to the inner ear.
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What Are The Benefits Of Rinne And Weber Tests
Doctors benefit from using Rinne and Weber tests because they are simple, can be done in the office, and are easy to perform. Theyre often the first of several tests used to determine the cause of hearing change or loss.
The tests can help identify the conditions that cause hearing loss. Examples of conditions that cause abnormal Rinne or Weber tests include:
- eardrum perforation
Rinne and Weber tests both use 512-Hz tuning forks to test how you respond to sounds and vibrations near your ears.
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,
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Diagnosing Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In diagnosing Sensorineural Hearing Loss, a typical hearing examination, as described previously, should take place. Once the condition is determined to be Sensorineural versus Conductive Hearing Loss, one should take an additional follow-up exam to determine the amount of damage that has taken place.
As discussed previously, checking a patient’s medical history and comparing that with apparent symptoms will help with the proper diagnosis. Evaluate the patient’s history, duration of hearing loss, and the physical examination to evaluate the cause of SNHL best.
For example, in older patients with the normal tympanic membrane but who experience bilateral, gradual hearing loss, the result is most likely due to presbycusis, or aging.
A person who works around loud noises for a prolonged duration or in an environment with sudden loud noise should wear protective equipment to limit the impact on hearing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has specific guidelines in place to protect hearing health.
Symptoms Of Conductive Hearing Loss
A conductive hearing loss reduces the ability to hear at a normal hearing level. The symptoms of a conductive hearing loss are therefore partial or full loss of hearing. The hearing loss can be in one ear or both ears. If a conductive hearing loss occurs suddenly or the hearing is reduced more and more over a short time, you should see a doctor to get your ears examined.
If you think that you might have a conductive hearing loss, we recommend that you get your hearing checked by a hearing professional.
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Degrees Of Hearing Loss
When someone is professionally diagnosed with hearing loss, typically theyre told how significant the hearing loss is. The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound, but the question for most people is, What does that mean for me?
Below is a brief explanation of the degrees of hearing loss. Generally, the more severe the hearing loss, the harder it is for the person to hear.