Different Types of Hearing Loss in Naperville & Wheaton, IL
Hearing loss has a number of causes, and can range in degree, from mild or moderate hearing loss to severe or profound hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect both high and low sounds, and each person will experience hearing loss differently. There are three types of hearing loss, and the type of hearing loss you have will determine the best treatment option.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is hearing loss caused by damaged to the cells of the inner ear or the auditory nerve which sends signals to the brain. When the cells in the ear are damaged, whether from noise or as part of the normal aging process, your ears can no longer hear all the sounds around you, and you’ll experience hearing loss.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB), and sounds over 85 dB will damage the inner ear and cause hearing loss. To put that into perspective, the sound of normal conversation is roughly 60 dB, your kitchen blender is around 100 dB, and the sound at a rock concert is nearly 120 dB. The louder the sound, the sooner you’ll experience hearing loss, and if you’re exposed to very loud sounds for even a few minutes, you’ll risk hearing loss.
If you have sensorineural hearing loss, you’ll struggle to hear high pitched sounds, have difficulty understanding speech, and may suffer from tinnitus. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, and once these cells are damaged, they can never be repaired. The best treatment option is a quality pair of hearing aids to amplify sounds and help you hear clearly.
Causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- Damage to the cells of the inner ear, whether from infection, illness, injury, or exposure to noise.
- Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss.
- Congenital, or having abnormal cells since birth.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer or middle ear. It can be caused by a blockage in the ear canal, damage to the eardrum (tympanic membrane), or problems with the middle ear (ossicles). Unlike sensorineural hearing loss which makes it hard to hear certain sounds, conductive hearing loss muffles all sounds, and it will feel as though someone has turned down the volume on all the sounds around you.
Conductive hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, and treating the underlying cause of the hearing loss, such as removing excessive earwax, can sometimes restore hearing.
Causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- An ear infection
- Earwax buildup
- Damage to the outer or middle ear such as a perforated eardrum
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. For example, you could have sensorineural hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise, but also face conducive hearing loss from a build of earwax, or a recent ear infection.
A comprehensive hearing evaluation will shed light on the type of hearing loss you have, and you’ll be able to choose the most effective treatment option to help you hear clearly.