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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

There are several different types of hearing loss, depending on which section of the auditory system is affected. The hearing loss may be sensorineural, conductive, mixed, functional or central. The starting point in creating a therapy plan is to correctly establish the type of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss – When sound waves are not completely conducted to the interior of the ear through the parts of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. Conductive hearing loss is rather common and could be due to a buildup of ear wax, an accumulation of fluid in the eustacian tube, which prevents the eardrum from moving, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the bones of the middle ear and other obstructions in the ear canal.

The majority of cases of conductive hearing loss are reversible, presuming there isn’t any irreversible damage to the parts of the middle ear, and with proper treatment the problem usually resolves fairly quickly. In some instances a surgical procedure can help to correct the issue or a hearing aid may be recommended.

Sensorineural hearing loss – This type of hearing loss accounts for over 90 percent of the situations in which a hearing aid is used. It is due to damage in the interior of the ear or to the acoustic nerve, which keeps 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 permanent, though breakthroughs in technology have permitted some previously untreatable cases to see some improvement.

The most typical reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, prolonged exposure to noise, issues with circulation of blood 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 problems with the auditory nerve.

Hearing aids are adequate for the majority of people who have this kind of hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant may help bring back hearing to those for whom a typical hearing aid is not enough.

Functional hearing loss – An infrequent situation, this type of hearing loss is not physical. This condition is due to psychological or emotional problem in which the person’s physical ability to hear is normal, however they are not able to hear.Central hearing loss – Central hearing loss occurs in situations where an issue in the central nervous system keeps sound signals from being processed by the brain. Affected individuals can ostensibly hear perfectly well, but cannot decode or interpret what the speaker is saying. Numerous cases involve a problem with the person’s ability to properly filter competing sounds. For example, the majority of us can have a conversation with traffic noise in the background, but people with this problem have a difficult time doing so.

Mixed hearing loss – As the term suggests, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of different types of hearing loss, in this case the combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Although there are a couple of other kinds of hearing loss, the combination of these 2 is most frequent.