Hearing loss may seem to be a pretty straight and straightforward thing. But the ear in itself is a great thing, and ordinary people are not aware of it. So any hearing problems should be treated immediately.
Here’s more about types of hearing loss.
When a person loses his or her ability to hear partially or entirely, the condition is known as hearing loss. Hearing loss can happen at any time, even during the child’s birth or gradually with increasing age. Hearing impairment in childhood or during childbirth can also affect the speaking ability as the child will be unable to learn spoken language. In older people, hearing loss can bring about problems regarding social interaction and understanding, even at work. It can also result in aloofness from society in older adults. It often affects people mentally and emotionally as they are unable to connect and express themselves to others.
Hearing impairment may even include factors like genetic disorders, aging, and complications during birth, exposure to excessive noise pollution, infections, certain medications, or even traumatic events. At the time of pregnancy, some diseases like syphilis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, and others can also cause hearing impairment in the growing fetus. More appropriately, when a person is unable to hear twenty- five decibels in at least one ear, hearing loss is said to be present. Even for infants, suggest tests for poor hearing. Specific preventions and public health measures such as proper immunization, avoiding loud noise, adequate care during pregnancy, and so on can prevent half of the global hearing disabilities.
Types of hearing loss
Hearing loss can even last for different periods can vary from person to person. Here are the different types of hearing loss –
Conductive hearing loss
It is related to the problem of transferring sound waves along the pathway, consisting of the outer ear, eardrum, or middle ear. In many cases, depending on the seriousness and nature of the problem, the treatment differs. This type of hearing loss can often be treated in many ways, including surgical and pharmaceutical techniques. And in some cases, hearing can also be restored partially or fully after treatment. Hearing aided devices are required frequently in cases of permanent or chronic conducting hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss makes all the sounds lowered, unclear, or muffled. In children, conduct congenital conductive hearing loss. Through newborn hearing screening or other facial abnormalities.
Cerumen or earwax, or other foreign particles in the external auditory canal or ear infection or abnormalities in the growth of the bone in the ear canal, are often causes of conductive hearing loss. The roots can also include tumors in the ear canal. Fluid accumulation in the middle ear is the most common reason for this hearing loss in children.
Many times ear allergies or perforated eardrum or dysfunction in the eustachian tube can contribute to hearing loss. Unequal air pressure in the middle and external ears can also cause problems. Often, the superior canal dehiscence creating the third window effect may require surgical corrections. For cases where the problem arises for infections, antibiotics, or antifungals are used to treat the disorder.
If conductive hearing loss is caused due to trauma, it corrects with surgical interventions. In cases where surgery is not an option, or other options are absent, hearing aids which increase the sound are also a possible treatment and can work up to some extent.
Sensorineural hearing loss
As the name suggests, this type of hearing loss is related to the problem where the leading cause lies in the inner ear or sensory organs like the cochlea and other parts or other nerve seated in the inner ear. It is the most common type of hearing loss. It can also occur when the inner ear nerves or cochlear hair cells are damaged.
These hair cells can be damaged right from birth or can even get damaged during life. This hearing loss also affects the pathway to the brain from the inner ear. It is mostly a permanent loss ranging from mild to severe to total damage, causing deafness. A common cause is exposure to immense noise pollution. Exposure to single sounds of loud noises such as blasts or shots or using headphones at higher volumes for long periods of being in noisy environments such as factories with grinding machines or concerts or sporting events can also cause hearing impairment.
Damage to the cochlear nerve can affect the transmission of sound waves through the cochlear nerve to the brain. Most cases of sensorineural hearing loss show gradual deterioration in hearing. But the most common reason for this kind of hearing loss can be increasing age.
Treatments are of three types – pharmacological, surgical, and management. Pharmacological therapies are limited and even not clinically proven. Total hearing loss for cochlear hair cell damage or nerve damage rectifies with surgeries. Weber test and Rinne test can also detect hearing loss. Tympanometry can also be done to test the functionality of the middle ear and eardrum.
Mixed hearing loss
When the elements of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss are brought together, it results in mixed hearing loss. It consists of damage to both the outer and the inner ear. The outer ear due to injury may be unable to conduct sound waves to the inner ear. The inner ear, unable to receive proper sound waves, cannot transmit it to the brain. The hearing loss ranges from mild to severe. Genetic factors, overexposure to noisy environments, medications, and the normal aging process can lead to mixed hearing loss. Depending on the degree of severity, treat with drugs, surgery, or hearing aids.
Congenital disabilities, infections, injuries, or even tumors can be responsible for mixed hearing impairments. When the problem consists majorly of the conductive hearing loss, the speech can be understood when the voice is loud enough. But when the range is more towards sensorineural, speech is not understandable even when it is loud enough.
Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder ( AND )
It is a hearing problem where the inner ear is successfully able to receive sound waves but is unable to transmit them to the brain. People of all ages can be affected by it, starting from infancy to old age.
Auditory neuropathy is said to play a significant role in hearing impairments and deafness. People with sensory neuropathy may have normal hearing or hearing loss of varying ranges. But they are bound to have poor speech understanding capabilities. People with auditory neuropathy can hear sounds but cannot understand them totally, and they would face difficulties in recognizing the words spoken. The causes of sensory neuropathy can be many.
It can include damage to inner hair cells, which are specialized cells that help transmit sound signals from the nervous system to the brain. It can also involve the destruction of the auditory neurons that help in sound transfer. Other causes can include genetic disorders; even mutations can be the possible damage. In some cases, a possible combination of all these problems can also arise. Some children who get auditory neuropathy may have inadequate oxygen supply, jaundice, premature birth, low birth weight deficiencies, and some other problems.
However, auditory neuropathy may heal in newborns, over time. Some get well, while others remain the same, and in some of them, the condition can deteriorate too. Their outer hair cells also stop functioning. The hearing stability in people suffering from this disorder can become better or worse, depending on the cause behind it.
It is a rare form of sensorineural hearing loss. Damage to the primary auditory cortex is the reason behind cortical deafness. The patient cannot hear any sound despite not having any defects in the anatomy of the ear. Bilateral cortical lesions cause it in the primary auditory cortex located in the temporal lobe of the brain. It is due to strokes, including brain injuries or congenital disabilities. The perception of sound is undoubtedly lost, but the inner ear functions remain intact. But different cases are of different types with recovery rates and require different treatments.
Unilateral hearing loss
it is a hearing impairment where one ear works perfectly, but the other listener has problems with sound transmission. People with unilateral hearing loss face difficulties while hearing with their impaired side. Understanding speech in a noisy environment or centralizing sound in an open space is a difficult task. It is a sort of partial deafness. Genetic disorders, material illnesses, and injuries are the possible causes of unilateral hearing loss. Some examples of these causes are physical trauma, acoustic neuroma, meningitis, microtia, labyrinthitis, Waardenburg syndrome, mumps, mastoiditis, and others.
Physical injury includes this. Multiple treatments are available out there to treat hearing loss, including surgical and non-surgical measures. The procedure is based on the severity of the hearing loss in the affected ear. In the presence of some hearing ability in the affected ear, some sound-amplifying devices can also be given as some adjustment, when the patient declines surgical procedures. In no hearing cases, a particular type of hearing device is given to the patient, and it is called a CROS hearing aid. There is surgical options available in which a cochlear implant is done, a bone conduction device. But treatment depends on:
The range of hearing impairment and the best treatment is chosen for it according to its complications. School children who have unilateral hearing loss get more unsatisfactory grades and should be given extra assistance and better performance. People diagnosed with unilateral hearing loss tend to have greater difficulty in locating the source of some sound. They cannot find a ringing phone or bell quickly. These people should be given additional assistance when outdoors.
It is not easy to lead a life with hearing loss. Such people get depressed and tend to live in anxiety. So the treatment should be done as soon as possible. Talking to the doctor to get the best possible advice and the correct procedure is the only option to deal with such sensitive issues. Hearing loss is not a simple thing as it seems. It has its types and complications. And any problems regarding the ear should not be ignored as these can lead to more significant problems later.