Types of Hearing Loss
The three common types of hearing loss are:
- Sensory-neural hearing loss: Damage to the nerve endings from the inner ear to the brain or to the tiny hair cells, results in the most common type of permanent hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss: When sound is not conducted competently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones of the middle ear called the ossicles.
- Mixed hearing loss: This form of hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensory-neural types of hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be present at birth (congenital) or occur later in life (acquired).
The most common causes of conductive hearing loss include impacted earwax, perforated eardrum, allergies, ear infections, middle ear fluid and benign tumours.
Causes of sensory-neural hearing loss include, ageing, certain medications, illness and head trauma. The most common cause is excessive exposure to loud noise. Noise Destroys!
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The symptoms of hearing loss can develop gradually or suddenly and may be mild or severe.
Hearing loss may involve one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral).
Symptoms may include a dull hearing, ear pain, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear), difficulty in understanding conversation and dizziness or vertigo. This can lead to depression, avoiding social engagements and needing to turn the volume to high on the television or radio.
The diagnosis of hearing loss will begin with Dr Katzen asking you about your symptoms and taking a thorough history. A detailed physical examination of your ears will follow with an otoscope which is a small instrument with a light, or under an operating microscope.
Other methods of evaluating your hearing will also be recommended and may include:
- Tuning fork test
- Audiometry or hearing test
- Whisper test
- Word recognition and speech reception tests
- Brain stem audiometry
These tests can all be conducted here in our offices.
Treatment Options for Hearing Loss
Treatment for permanent hearing loss include hearing devices such as hearing aids, and using television closed captions and assisted listening devices.
Treatment for temporary hearing loss depends on the cause and is mostly treated successfully.
An ear blocked with earwax is treated by removal of the earwax and an ear infection is treated with antibiotics.