How to identify which type of hearing loss you have

2018-11-09 | Hearing loss, Patient Resources

How to identify which type of hearing loss you have

Are you experiencing some hearing loss? If so, you may be wondering what type of hearing loss you have and why you have it. The different types of hearing loss and their causes can be confusing. We’ve put some information together to help make things a little clearer.

There are three main types of hearing loss, sensorineural, conductive, and mixed. Each  of them have a number of different possible causes:

Sensorineural hearing loss

This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss happens when there are problems with, or damage to, the tiny sensory hair cells or nerves of your inner ear (cochlea). The small sensory hair cells register sound and send them to your brain via your auditory nerve. Most sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, but can usually be vastly improved with hearing aids.

How can you tell if you have sensorineural hearing loss? The best thing to do if you are experiencing a problem with your hearing is to get a hearing test with your local hearing healthcare professional. People with sensorineural hearing loss often find that sounds seem quiet, words sound distorted, and that loud environments make understanding conversations difficult. This type of hearing loss is usually caused by:

  • Noise damage (noise-induced hearing loss)
  • Aging (presbycusis)
  • Medicines that can damage your inner ear (ototoxic)
  • Illnesses (such as meningitis, measles and some autoimmune disorders)
  • Genetics
  • Trauma
  • Inner ear malformation

Conductive hearing loss

This is when something stops sound from getting into your inner ear. The cause is often that’s easily diagnosed and treated like a wax buildup, foreign object, catarrh, or fluid from an illness, infection, or allergy. However, there are some more complicated causes:

  • A narrow ear canal
  • A ruptured eardrum perforated eardrum
  • Too much bone growing in your ear
  • In rare cases, tumors

In these cases a combination of treatment and hearing aids might be needed.

How do you know you have conductive hearing loss? You might experience a feeling of pressure or pain, sounds may seem muffled, and even your own voice can sound different.

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. People with mixed hearing loss may need treatment to correct their conductive hearing loss and hearing aids for their sensorineural hearing loss.

Always get a proper diagnosis

If you think you or a loved one are experiencing a hearing loss, there’s plenty to be positive about. Technology has come on leaps and bounds to bring us discreet, easy-to-use hearing aids. Many of them can even pair up with your phone, TV, and many other devices to make your life that bit better. In fact, 90 percent of hearing aid wearers say they’d recommend using them. Anyone experiencing problems with their hearing should get a proper diagnosis.

Our team here at South Louisiana ENT can check your hearing and help to improve it. Why not give us a call to see how we can help?

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Dr. JJ Martinez, AuD, FAAA

J.J. was born in Wichita, KS, and was brought up in a Marine Corps family. Following in his father’s footsteps, he joined the Marine Corps after high school and was stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. After going to college at Southeastern Louisiana University, he went to graduate school and got his doctorate degree from Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, LA. Soon after, he started his career in audiology and became board certified in Audiology.


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