Digital Hearing Aids and Hearing Loss Types

Hearing loss is a fact of life for many people. Thanks to modern technology and rapid advancements, this no longer has to seem like the end of your world. There are solutions for many types of loss; solutions that allow you to get back to the more important things in life. While digital hearing devices can often make a remarkable difference for those experiencing hearing loss, it is important to understand the condition itself first before exploring hearing aid options.

Hearing loss is a broad term which describes auditory system damage. This broad term is further broken down into categories which describe what part of the auditory system has been damaged. There are 3 primary categories of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed. What, exactly, does this mean? Let’s take a closer look.

Conductive Loss occurs when sound does not efficiently conduct from the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the inner ear ossicles (small bones inside the ear). This type of loss is characterized by a reduction in the level of sound being heard and the ability to clearly hear the faintest of sounds. There are several causes of conductive hearing loss, including: fluid in the middle ear due to illnesses such as colds, various types of ear infections, allergies, eustachian tube malfunction, absence/malformation of any section of the ear, presence of foreign objects, impacted earwax, benign tumors and eardrum perforation. Both medical and surgical solutions are available to decrease the adverse effects of conductive hearing loss.

Sensorineural Loss is the result of damage to the cochlea (inner ear) or the nerves that connect the inner ear with the brain. This is a type of permanent loss. Rarely can sensorineural hearing loss be corrected with medical and surgical solutions. This type of loss is characterized by a reduction in the ability to hear faint sounds. When it comes to loud speech or sounds, one suffering from sensorineural hearing loss may find that the sounds are still difficult to hear, as they might often sound muffled and unclear. What causes this? Illnesses, medications/drugs which may be toxic to the auditory system, genetic predisposition, head trauma, malformation of the inner ear, exposure to loud noise and the aging process.

Mixed Loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural loss. This means that damage has occurred in the middle or outer ear, as well in the cochlea and/or auditory nerve. While mixed hearing loss can occur due to simultaneous damage, it is often the result of an existing loss coupled with an illness or some other cause which brings on a deeper level of hearing loss. While the conductive loss can be treated, the sensorineural loss is typically permanent.

It is important to understand what type of loss you have, what may have caused it and what solutions exist. This way, you can discuss your options with your audiologist and decide which solution is suited to you and your lifestyle.

Over 90% of individuals suffering from hearing loss can experience a noticeable difference wearing digital hearing aids [].

Michael J Curry is the director of communication for Local Hearing a provider of digital hearing aids through a nationwide network of clinics []

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.