Musicians Need to Protect Their Hearing!! By: Lisa D. Cahill, Ph.D., CCC-A
How is Your Hearing? | Types of Hearing Loss
Some people experience very small levels of hearing loss, and others lose significant hearing. The type of hearing loss you have depends on a few different things. Recognizing hearing loss by knowing the symptoms helps you determine if you should seek professional help.
If you suspect that you have hearing impairment, an audiologist can perform tests to determine the exact type of hearing loss you have. Knowing the type of hearing loss is necessary for the treatment of your specific hearing deficit. There are basically three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
With the mixed type of hearing loss, there are deficits from both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Before your audiologist can offer you any treatment, he or she must discover the exact cause of your hearing difficulties.
Conductive Hearing Loss – Sound Interrupted
Conductive hearing loss involves the middle ear cavity and the inner ear. Specifically, when any disease or condition interrupts the delivery of sound through the middle or inner ear, there is conductive hearing loss.
Sometimes, blockage in the ear causes conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing deficit leads to a decrease in loudness of an initial sound. By the time the sound reaches the inner ear, it is way less intense than what the sound of the original noise. People with this type of hearing loss need more energy to hear.
The treatment of conductive hearing loss results in a complete or partial hearing improvement.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss – Is this Mike On?
The second type of hearing difficulty is sensorineural hearing loss, often called retrocochlear hearing loss. The best explanation of this type of hearing loss is to take the word and divide it into two separate words: sensory and neural.
Damage to the “neural” (or nerve) hearing components affects the “sense” of hearing with this inner ear nerve dysfunction. Damage to the corti (the ear structure oftenreferred to as the body’s microphone) can range from moderate to severe. Just like a mike that is turned off, there is no perceived projection of sound.
When the hair cells in the ear cannot stimulate the nerves of hearing, and there is severe damage to the corti, a person cannot use the hearing nerves. Degeneration of these nerves results in sensorineural hearing loss. The exact cause of this deficit cannot always be specified, and sensorineural problems are permanent and irreversible.
Similar to the effects of conductive hearing loss, sound is extremely difficult to hear and can be unclear with this hearing difficulty.
Mixed Hearing Loss – Double Dilemma
Mixed hearing loss is exactly what it sounds like. It is a mixture of sensorineural and conductive loss types. With mixed hearing loss, a nerve disorder coupled with a structural dysfunction in the middle ear mechanism both lead to hearing difficulty. Most audiologists consider this condition worse than either conductive hearing loss alone or sensorineural hearing loss alone.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Hearing Loss
There are different symptoms that someone can experience from hearing loss. The symptoms can be broken down into three different categories: medical, social, and emotional.
- a family history of hearing loss
- taking medications that can harm the ear’s hearing system
- exposure to very loud sounds for a prolonged period of time
- having diabetes, circulation, heart, or thyroid problems
- having a hard time hearing soft spoken people including women and children
- having to turn your television or radio to a very loud volume
- having ringing in your ears
- reading lips or watching people’s faces instead of being able to solely listen to them
- having trouble hearing in noisy places
- requiring repetition of things to be said
- feeling like voices are muffled or people are mumbling
- feeling stressed out due to straining to hear people
- annoyance and irritability
- embarrassment to meet people
- nervous because you cannot understand someone
- withdrawal from social situations
All three types of hearing loss cause hearing deficits. Your audiologist can treat conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss once the type is determined. Hearing tests are painless, simple, and risk-free. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of hearing loss, see your audiology specialist today for a hearing loss evaluation.