Types, Treatment, and Causes of Hearing Loss

It is usual for hearing loss to occur as people grow old. That is why it is advisable to go for a hearing test to ensure your hearing capability remains as strong and effective as it should be, even as you age. About half the population of people older than 65 years have some form of hearing loss in the United States. Hearing loss could be profound or mild and could be a result of several factors.  

These causes could include genetic defects, disease, injury, and age. There are different types of hearing loss that may occur. The most common types of hearing loss include sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and conductive hearing loss. However, before looking at types of hearing loss, it is crucial to understand the ear anatomy. You ought to know the parts of your ear to understand the types of hearing loss perfectly. 

Ear Anatomy 

The human ear consists of three distinct parts: They include: 

  • Inner ear – it contains a spiral-shaped organ known as the cochlea. That is where the sound waves from the environment are picked. The hair cells on this organ sense the vibration and relay the message to your brain via the cochlear nerve.  
  • Middle ear – this part of the ear has three tiny bones known as the stapes (stirrup bone), the malleus (hammer bone), and the anvil bone known as the incus. The eardrum separates this part of the ear from the outer part. These bones are responsible for amplifying the eardrum movement as the sound waves come in. The middle ear is connected to the back of your throat via the Eustachian tube, equalizing the air pressure.  
  • Outer ear – categorically, this is the visible part of the ear. It is made a shape that can collect all sound waves around you. A tubular opening of the ear canal leads the waves to the eardrum.  

Types of Hearing Loss 

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

It is the most typical type of hearing loss. Usually, it will occur when the inner hair cells and ear nerves get damaged. That could happen due to noise damage, aging of the patient, or some other reasons. This type of hearing loss affects the pathways to the brain from the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible, either surgically or medically. However, hearing aids can alleviate the condition. This hearing loss will happen after the cochlea, which is the inner ear, is damaged. In this hearing loss condition, electrical impulses cannot reach your brain.  

  • Mixed Hearing Loss 

It is a hearing loss condition that combines conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. It means there are some damages in the inner and outer ear as well. In this condition, your outer ear will not pass sound properly to your inner part of the ear. The inner ear is also unable to process this sound which should then be sent to the brain. 

  • Conductive Hearing Loss 

It is a hearing loss condition that comes because of obstructions in the middle of the outer ear. That could be due to ear formation, tumors, fluid, or earwax. With this obstruction, sound does not get to your inner ear. Fortunately, this condition is treatable with medicine or surgically.  

What Causes Temporary Hearing Loss 

Temporary hearing loss can be a result of: 

  • Foreign objects – when a foreign object is stuck in your ear canal, it is possible that it can bring about temporary hearing loss. 
  • Wax – you are already aware that your ear secretes cerumen. It is a waxy substance that lubricates and protects the tissues. Wax build-up could potentially block the canal, which may result in short-term hearing loss.  
  • Excess mucus – hay fever, flu, or a common cold, among other allergies, could bring about excess mucus that will block the Eustachian tube.  

Causes of Hearing Loss 

  • Hereditary disorders – you will be shocked that some hearing loss is hereditary. It is where the parents pass on affected genes to their young ones. 
  • Genetic disorders – genetic disorders may result in hearing loss like osteogenesis imperfecta and Treacher Collins syndrome. Usually, it could happen during conception. 
  • Noise – thunderous noises such as explosions, firecrackers, gunshots, and rock rockers are another reason you could develop hearing loss. The effects could even be more detrimental if the loud noise is prolonged for a long time, like in the workplace. Ensure you stay away from loud noise areas to protect your ears. If you work in a noisy area, you could use earplugs, muffs, or headphones to reduce loud noise.  
  • Trauma – fractured skull, eardrum perforation, and air pressure changes may cause trauma and result in hearing loss.  

Treatment of Hearing Loss 

  • Conductive hearing loss 

Treatment may be via surgery when the ear canal failed to open during birth or malformation or otosclerosis. The other solution could be amplification or antifungal medications. 

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

Treatment can be done with corticosteroids which reduce inflammation and cochlea hair cell after loud noise exposure. If the condition arose due to a disease, it is manageable through medicine for that disease affecting your nervous system. Hearing aids can also alleviate the condition.  

  • Mixed Hearing Loss 

To treat this condition, you have to focus on the conductive component first. Some studies have shown that adding a conductive component gave the patient better hearing aid.  

Final Thoughts 

There are different types of hearing loss, and you need to understand the one you suffer from to know the treatment you need. However, it would be best to visit a specialist to assess the ear and tell you the issue. 

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