Hearing loss can affect anyone at any stage in life and can be caused by a variety of different underlying problems. This article offers information about three kinds of hearing loss and what kinds of treatment options doctors have at their disposal to address them.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This form of hearing loss occurs when patients have physical blockages in their outer ears, preventing sound waves from reaching the middle ear. These blockages can be caused by birth defects, benign tumors, or fluid formation, including that caused by ear infections. Treatment options for conductive hearing loss include antibiotics in the event that an ear infection has caused fluid to build up and block the passage and surgery in cases where non-infectious fluid or deformations are to blame.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This form of hearing loss is the most common variety, occurring when the nerves in the inner ear become damaged and are no longer able to conduct auditory signals to the patient’s brain. It causes a blurring of speech and sound even when these auditory cues are loud enough to be heard and can be caused by diseases, viruses, exposure to excessively loud sound, head trauma, deformation of the inner ear, or simple aging. Treatment for this form of hearing loss varies depending on the underlying cause of damage and may involve either surgery or the prescription of a hearing aid.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Patients suffering from mixed hearing loss have problems with both the inner and outer parts of their ears and are usually diagnosed on a spectrum ranging from mild to complex. Those who have mixed hearing loss tend to experience sound at a softer volume and to have often extreme difficulty understanding the sound. Causes can include overexposure to loud sound, infections, tumors, and simple aging and patients suffering from mixed hearing loss must often be treated via both medical and surgical means, often through the use of a Baha bone conduction designed to improve patients’ ability to understand speech.
The first step for patients who are suffering from any form of hearing loss to take toward addressing the problem is to head to an audiologist or ENT specialist for testing. These specialists can then offer a detailed diagnosis and treatment suggestions based on the patient’s unique situation.