What is hearing loss? It is simply described as a partial or total inability to hear.
There are 3 types of hearing loss:
A conductive loss typically involves the middle ear space, including the tympanic membrane (the eardrum) and the ossicles, those three tiny bones in the middle ear space, called the malleus, incus and stapes (hammer, anvil and stirrup). Sometimes, there can be problems with the middle ear that keeps the sound from being conducted through that space into the inner ear, thereby disrupting the path to hearing. People with this type of loss may have difficulty hearing people talking, but may still understand quite well if things are loud enough. Many times, this type of loss is treated through surgeries or medication. However, some people can develop permanent conductive hearing losses and look to traditional hearing aids or bone-anchored hearing aids to help them hear clearly again. With this type of loss, sometimes if the sound is made loud enough, sounds become clear again.
A sensorineural hearing loss involves the inner ear, or cochlea, which is the organ of hearing. Sometimes, the hearing impairment can even involve the nerve that connects from the cochlea to the brain. We no longer differentiate between a sensory (inner ear) loss and a neural loss (nerve). Many people with age related hearing loss, or presbycusis have this type of loss. Many people with this type of impairment say, "Well, I can hear you, but can't understand you," or will have difficulty hearing in the presence of noise. People with this type of loss typically find that clarity of speech has diminished. Unfortunately, no medication or surgery will improve this type of hearing loss. It is treated through amplification devices such as hearing aids, pocket talkers, or TV Ears, depending on the severity.
The third type of loss is called a mixed hearing loss. This involves both a conductive loss and a sensorineural loss. Treatment for this type of loss may include surgery and then further treatment with amplification.
If you, or a loved one are experiencing difficulties hearing or understanding, it is important to get your hearing checked by an audiologist. Treatment for hearing impairment is vital to continue living a healthy life. Contact our office to schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation at 865-229-6230.