Home What are the different classifications of hearing loss?

What are the different classifications of hearing loss?


health care logoUnderstanding the way we hear is the initial step in fully understanding the numerous causes of hearing loss and the distinct types of hearing loss. Sound enters via the outer ear, which is the portion of the ear on the exterior of the head, but also includes the eardrum and the ear canal. In the middle ear 3 miniature bones called ossicles transfer sounds to the inner ear by converting sounds into vibrations.The inner ear has three key components – the cochlea, the two semi-circular canals (essential for balance) and the acoustic nerves which transfer the sound signals to the brain. This is a very complex mechanism, and troubles may occur in any area of it that result in hearing loss. There are four main classes of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is due to something hindering the transmission of sound through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can frequently be solved with medication or a surgical procedure; if surgery isn’t an option, it can be treated with hearing aids.

The second classification is sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage in the inner ear – to the cochlea, to the hair cells lining the inner ear, or to the acoustic nerves themselves. Hearing aids are usually the best option for treating sensorineural hearing loss, as most cases are not successfully remedied with medication or surgery.

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.

Damage to the inner ear or auditory nerves preventing a message from being understood by our brain that entered the ear normally, is called central hearing loss.

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). Additional sub-categories of hearing loss includes whether it is progressive vs. sudden, whether the hearing loss is fluctuating vs. stable, and whether the hearing loss was present at birth (congenital) or developed later in life (acquired). The most important thing to bear in mind, however, is that whatever type of hearing loss you may have incurred, our specialists can help you to diagnose and treat it properly.



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