Hearing is one of the gifts of nature. If disrupted in any way, it can cause major physical and mental health problems. Also, our natural defense mechanism is highly dependent upon our hearing abilities. So, no doubt hearing loss can cause serious difficulties in our usual life.
Ears are our primary hearing organ. They are constructed of delicate bones, tissues, and cells. If they get damaged for any reason, our hearing can get compromised.
Other than that, there are some physical and genetic reasons to disrupt our hearing abilities. To protect our hearing, a detailed idea of the causes can help a lot. So, we have arranged this article with all the necessary information. Keep reading to know the causes of the major 4 types of hearing loss. We will also discuss preventive measures and treatment to help your hearing loss.
The Different Parts of the Ear
Before diving into details, let’s get familiar with the different parts of the ear. This will help in discussing the types of hearing loss. The ear can be divided into three sections: inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear.
The inner ear consists of a snail-shaped bone named cochlea. It can be considered as the bridge between the brain and the ear. The auditory nerves reside inside the cochlea and transform sound signals into electrical impulses understandable by the brain. This part is also responsible for body balance.
The middle ear hosts three small bones. These bones’ movements are a part of the listening process that transmits through the eardrum to the inner ear.
The eardrum is the element of the outer ear. Also, the visual parts of the ear, like the ear canal and pinna, are also considered as outer ear components. The tympanic membrane separates the outer and inner ear.
4 Types of Hearing Loss
The major types of hearing loss occur in human are:
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing loss
- Unilateral hearing loss
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: This type of hearing loss is caused when any damage occurs in the inner ear. Also, if any nerve transporting sound signal to the brain is damaged, it can also cause this type of hearing loss.
For now, there is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. Most older adults have such hearing loss. Additionally, toxicity, loud noise exposure, pulsating sounds, a genetic disorder, and head trauma are equally responsible for sensorineural hearing loss.
The neural links and hair cells responsible for hearing sounds are damaged in this case of hearing loss. So the brain cannot register sounds effectively, and the person suffers from hearing loss. The problem may start from having trouble listening to high-pitched consonant sounds and increasing until the person is completely deaf.
Conductive Hearing Loss: When sound faces difficulties in reaching the inner ear, this type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss. It can occur either in the ear canal, eardrum or in the small bones in the middle ear.
Conductive hearing loss reduces the sound level or quality. Deposition of ear wax, a rupture in the eardrum, abnormal bone growth in the inner ear can cause this type of hearing loss. Unlike sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss can be treated with medications and surgery.
Ear infections, fluid build-ups, allergies can also be reasons for conductive hearing loss. With proper care, conductive hearing loss can be prevented effectively.
Mixed Hearing Loss: When both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss co-occurs in a person, it is defined as mixed hearing loss. Here the damage occurs both in the inner ear and middle and/or outer ear.
Sometimes it is possible to regain a portion of the hearing ability by treating the causes of conductive hearing loss. However, complete hearing recovery is not possible in this case.
Unilateral Hearing Loss: This kind of hearing loss is quite serious. You may experience mild to severe hearing loss in one ear all of a sudden. Both children and adults can experience this condition.
Genetics can be a huge reason for this kind of hearing loss. Other than that, infections, head injuries, traumatic brain injury, abnormality in any section of the ear are responsible for unilateral hearing loss.
If not treated properly, this hearing loss can elevate way too quickly and turn the victim completely deaf. In many cases, unilateral hearing loss was found reversible.
Although hearing loss is often irreversible oftentimes, proper treatment can reduce the severity efficiently. Early detection and treatment can hugely aid in this manner.
Digital hearing aids can be your best friend in managing hearing loss. It will enable you to regain your hearing ability and participate in the conversations effectively. If the situation gets worse, you will need to think about installing a cochlear implant to listen effectively.
So, for the sake of your health and wellbeing, consider consulting an ENT specialist or an audiologist sooner than later.