In general terms, there are two types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural. A combination of both is also seen as a mixed hearing loss. More >

Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that blocks or impedes the conveyance of sound through the middle ear. The result is a reduction in the sound intensity (loudness) that reaches the cochlea. Generally, the cause of conductive hearing loss can be treated with a complete or partial improvement in hearing.

Sensorineural hearing loss results from inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction. Often, the cause cannot be determined. It is typically irreversible and permanent. It, too, reduces the intensity of sound, but it might also result in a lack of clarity even when sounds, particularly speech, are loud enough. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through hearing aids.

A mixed hearing loss is a combination of a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing aids can be beneficial for persons with a mixed hearing loss, but caution should be exercised.

The causes of hearing loss are varied and their impact on hearing is variable. Sometimes the cause or etiology is readily apparent, such as a wax build-up in the external ear canal or an ear infection. At other times, the causes of hearing loss are presumed or indefinite given current levels of technology and the information they provide, such as in cases of sudden onset or non-syndromic sensorineural hearing loss. More >

The main causes of hearing loss are as follows:

  • Excessive noise (i.e. construction, rock music, gun shot, etc)
  • Aging (presbycusis)
  • Infections (otitis media)
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Birth defects or genetics
  • Ototoxic reaction to drugs or cancer treatment (i.e. antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation)

Causes of Hearing Loss – Conductive:

  • External Ear
  • congenital malformation where pinna and ear canal fail to form
  • blockage in ear canal - foreign body or accumulated cerumen (ear wax)
  • Middle ear
  • perforation in tympanic membrane (ear drum) from trauma or disease
  • otitis media (ear infection)
  • broken ossicular chain due to head trauma or trauma to the ear

Causes of Hearing Loss – Sensorineural:

  • Sensory
  • neonatal risk indicators
  • genetic disorders causing non-syndromic sensorineural hearing loss
  • presbycusis - hearing loss from aging
  • ototoxic drugs such as some antibiotics
  • cancer treatments - chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • head trauma - fractured temporal bone
  • excessive noise expose
  • diseases of the vascular system such as sickle cell anemia
  • kidney disease
  • Meniere's syndrome
  • congenital infections such as toxoplasmosis, rubella, CMV, herpes, other bacterial infections like syphilis
  • acquired infections such as influenza, meningitis, labyrinthitis, mumps, syphilis
  • Neural
  • acoustic neuroma or other tumor of or near the nerve of hearing and balance

The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or they can be significant and come on suddenly. Either way, there are common indications. You should suspect hearing loss if you experience any of the signs below.. More >

You might have hearing loss if you . . .

Socially:

  • require frequent repetition.
  • have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
  • think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling.
  • have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
  • have trouble hearing children and women.
  • have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
  • answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
  • have ringing in your ears.
  • read lips or more intently watch people's faces when they speak with you.

Emotionally:

  • feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
  • feel annoyed at other people because you can't hear or understand them.
  • feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
  • feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
  • withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.

Medically:

  • have a family history of hearing loss.
  • take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).
  • have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems.
  • have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.

Many people are aware that their hearing has deteriorated but are reluctant to seek help. Perhaps they don't want to acknowledge the problem, are embarrassed by what they see as a weakness, or believe that they can More >

But time and again, research demonstrates the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects of untreated hearing loss . . . with far-reaching implications that go well beyond hearing alone. In fact, those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.

Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:
·     irritability, negativism and anger
·     fatigue, tension, stress and depression
·     avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
·     social rejection and loneliness
·     reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
·     impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
·     reduced job performance and earning power
·     diminished psychological and overall health

Hearing loss is not just an ailment of old age. It can strike at any time and any age, even childhood. For the young, even a mild or moderate case of hearing loss could bring difficulty learning, developing speech and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and succeed in school and life.

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