In the same way that there are numerous causes of hearing loss, there are many distinct types of hearing loss; understanding the way that we hear is the beginning of understanding the various types. Including the ear canal and the eardrum, the outer ear is the part of the ear on the outside of the head which receives sounds. In the middle ear 3 miniature bones called ossicles transfer sounds to the inner ear by transforming them into vibrations.The inner ear has three key parts – the cochlea, the two semi-circular canals (important for balance) and the acoustic nerves which transmit the impulses to the brain. All areas of the ear are sophisticated and delicate. Problems in any of the three sections – outer, middle or inner ear – may cause hearing loss. Four distinct classifications constitute what is collectively called “hearing loss.”
Conductive hearing loss is caused by something interfering with the transmission of sound through the outer or middle ear. This form of hearing loss can frequently be remedied by medication or a surgical procedure; if surgery is not an option, it can be treated with the use of hearing aids.
Sensorineural hearing loss generally refers to damage to the hair cells of the inner ear, to the cochlea, or sometimes to the acoustic nerves. This damage can in most cases not be effectively remedied by medication or surgery, but can be minimized through the use of hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss involves both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, and can occasionally (but not always) be treated with a combination of surgery, medication, and/or hearing aids.
The fourth and final classification is called central hearing loss, and happens when sound passes through the ear normally, but some form of damage to the inner ear causes it to be scrambled so that it is not properly understood by our brains.
Spanning each of these four main classifications are sub-categories of degree, meaning that the hearing loss may be mid-level, moderate, severe, or profound. Hearing loss is typically classified with additional sub-categories including whether the hearing loss occurs in one or both ears (unilateral vs. bilateral), whether the degree of hearing loss is the same in both ears (symmetrical vs. asymmetrical), or whether the hearing loss occurred before or after learning to speak (pre-lingual or post-lingual). Other sub-categories of hearing loss include progressive or sudden (occurring gradually or all at once), fluctuating or stable (getting better at times, or staying the same), and congenital or acquired (present at birth or developing later in life). Whatever the cause of your hearing loss, our specialists will help you diagnose the cause and help you treat it properly and effectively.