Hearing problems are grouped in a variety of ways. The exact section of the auditory system affected is what determines the categorization. In this article we supply a breakdown of 5 categories – sensorineural, conductive, functional, mixed and central. The starting point in developing a therapy plan is to accurately establish the type of hearing impairment.
- Sensorineural hearing loss – Sensorineural hearing loss accounts for over 90 percent of the instances in which a hearing aid is worn. Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage in the inner ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which prevents sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also known as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is generally speaking irreversible, although breakthroughs in technology have made it possible for some previously untreatable cases to be improved. The most common factors that cause sensorineural hearing loss are aging, prolonged exposure to noise, issues with circulation of blood to the interior of the ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, medicines that cause damage to the ear, some diseases, genetics and problems with the auditory nerve.Hearing aids are satisfactory for most people that have sensorineural hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant can help restore hearing to those for whom a standard hearing aid is insufficient.
- Conductive hearing loss – In situations where sound waves are not sufficiently conducted to the inner ear through the parts of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. This is rather common and can be due to an accumulation of ear wax, a buildup of fluid in the eustacian tube, which prevents the eardrum from moving properly, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the tiny bones of the middle ear or blockages in the ear canal.Most instances of conductive hearing loss are reversible, presuming there is no irreversible damage to the parts of the middle ear, and with proper treatment the trouble usually resolves fairly quickly. For some patients a surgical procedure can assist in correcting the issue or a hearing aid may be recommended.
- Mixed hearing loss – As suggested by the term, mixed hearing loss is a combination of multiple types of hearing loss, in this case the combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Although there are a few other kinds of hearing loss, the combination of these two is most common.
- Functional hearing loss – An infrequent situation, this type of hearing loss does not have a psysiological explanation. This condition is caused by an emotional or psychological problem in which the person‚Äôs physical hearing is found to be normal, however they are not able to hear.
- Central hearing loss – Central hearing loss arises when a problem in the central nervous system keeps sound signals from being processed and interpreted by the brain. Affected individuals can seemingly hear just fine, but cannot decode or interpret what the speaker is saying. Numerous cases involve a problem with the individual’s capacity to effectively filter rivaling sounds. For instance, most of us can hold a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but people with central hearing loss have a difficult time doing so.