Hearing problems are classified in a variety of different ways. The specific section of the auditory system affected is what determines the classification. The hearing loss may be conductive, senorineural, functional, central or mixed. Some kinds of hearing loss are more treatable than others, and we can explain your choices after an initial assessment.
Conductive hearing loss
When sound waves are not completely conducted to the interior of the ear through the structures of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. This is rather common and can be caused by a buildup of ear wax, an accumulation of moisture in the eustacian tube, which prevents the eardrum from moving properly, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the bones of the middle ear and other blockages in the ear canal.
Most cases of this type of hearing loss are reversible, assuming there is no irreversible damage to the parts of the middle ear, and with treatment the trouble usually clears up fairly quickly. For some patients surgery can assist in correcting the problem or a hearing aid may be fitted.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This type of hearing loss is responsible for over 90% of the cases in which a hearing aid is worn. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage in the inner ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which blocks sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also referred to as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the impairment is more often than not irreversible, although improvements in technology have enabled some previously untreatable cases to see some improvement.
The most frequent reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, extended exposure to noise, issues with blood flow to the interior of the ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, drugs that cause injury to the ear, a handful of diseases, heredity and issues with the auditory nerve.
Hearing aids are suitable for most people who have this type of hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant may help bring back hearing to those individuals for whom a standard hearing aid is insufficient.
Central hearing loss
Central hearing loss occurs when an issue in the central nervous system prevents sound signals from being processed by the brain. Affected individuals can seemingly hear just fine, but cannot understand or decipher what the speaker is saying. Numerous cases involve a problem with the person‚Äôs ability to properly filter rival sounds. For example, most of us can have a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but individuals with this problem have a difficult time doing so.
Functional hearing loss
A rare occurrence, functional hearing loss is not physical. Functional hearing loss is due to an emotional or psychological problem in which the person‚Äôs physical hearing is normal, but they do not seem to be able to hear.
Mixed hearing loss
As the term suggests, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of different types of hearing loss – conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Though there are a couple of other types of hearing loss, the combination of these 2 is most frequent.