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Different types of hearing loss

Around one-in-six people in the UK are affected by hearing loss, according to Hearing Link, and the problem becomes more common as we get older. In fact, it’s estimated that 71% of people over the age of 70 suffer from hearing loss.

Although hearing loss is a common issue, not many people are aware that there are different types of hearing loss. Here are some of them explained.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss and occurs as a result of damage to the auditory nerve or the inner ear, and when hair cells within the cochlea get damaged.

There are various causes of this type of hearing loss, including injury, disease, exposure to loud noise or the use of certain drugs. In some cases, there’s not much you can do to prevent it, as it’s often linked to heredity and ageing.

The loudness and clarity of sounds are impacted by this type of hearing loss, but other symptoms may include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), balance problems and difficulties hearing high-pitched sounds. If symptoms come on very suddenly, it’s important to consult a hearing specialist immediately.

Although there are no treatments to correct this type of hearing loss, wearing hearing aids or cochlea implants may help.

Conductive hearing loss

With conductive hearing loss, sounds aren’t able to reach the inner ear. This may be because of an obstruction or trauma to the outer or middle ear. It is most frequently found in children who are prone to frequent ear infections or may insert objects into their ears.

There are a number of different reasons why conductive hearing loss may occur, based on whether the outer or middle ear is affected.

Wax impaction is probably one of the most common causes of outer ear conductive hearing loss, but other outer ear issues could be narrowing of the ear canal, a blockage or swimmer’s ear.

Conductive hearing loss in the middle ear may be caused by infection, a thickening of the membrane or abnormal growths.

As the inner ear and auditory nerve aren’t impacted by this type of hearing loss, the sufferer has no issues with clarity of sounds but is affected by the loudness of sounds. Pain or pressure may also be felt in the ears and on some occasions, the ear may smell unpleasant.

Depending on the cause of conductive hearing loss, treatment may be able to resolve the issue for some people, while for others, the problem may be permanent.

Mixed hearing loss

It is possible to have a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss, which is, unsurprisingly, known as mixed hearing loss. Some people may develop one type first, and then go on to develop the other later on.

This form of hearing loss tends to occur with increasing age, and can also result from trauma to the ear.

Because mixed hearing loss combines both types of hearing loss, symptoms can vary between the two. This also means that treatment options will vary, depending on which of the two areas of hearing loss are more dominant and the specific cause.

Single-sided deafness

In some cases, hearing loss occurs in one ear only. This is known as single-sided deafness. Some people are born with hearing loss in one ear, while others develop the condition later on. Treatment will depend on the cause, and the length of time someone has suffered from this problem.

Taking a hearing test is the most effective way to assess your level of hearing and understand the type of hearing loss you may be suffering from, so the best treatment options can be found. Contact the experts at VIP Hearing Solutions for a free consultation.