In the United States, 1 in 8 people over 12 years of age have hearing loss in both ears. However, not all hearing loss is the same.
While many people have trouble hearing anything, others only struggle to hear certain sounds. There are various degrees of hearing loss as well as many different causes. Treatment options for hearing loss will vary based on its cause and its severity.
In this guide, we'll tell you about the different types of hearing loss and the treatment options for each.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
It's important to realize that there are varying degrees of hearing loss severity.
Some people may only fail to hear quieter sounds. Others may have trouble hearing normal conversation but can still hear certain loud sounds.
Here are the main 4 levels of hearing loss to be aware of.
Mild Hearing Loss
With mild hearing loss, only the quietest of sounds can't be heard.
People who suffer from mild hearing loss will have trouble hearing quiet sounds that are between 25-40 dB. This could include noises such as birds or the sound of leaves rustling. They might also find it difficult to follow a conversation with someone if it's taking place in a public setting.
A hearing aid can help significantly with this degree of hearing loss.
Moderate Hearing Loss
Someone who suffers from moderate hearing loss may have trouble understanding normal conversations and may also miss other sounds as well. Those with moderate hearing loss can't hear sounds that are less than 40-75 dB.
During a normal conversation, these people may miss certain words. They may also be unable to hear sounds such as a doorbell ringing.
Severe Hearing Loss
Severe hearing loss can lead to someone having a lot of difficulty listening to another person during a conversation. It won't be easy for them to understand normal speech unless they decide to get a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.
People who have severe hearing loss won't be able to hear sounds that are lower than 70-94 dB.
Profound Hearing Loss
Profound hearing loss is the most significant degree of hearing loss.
Those who have profound hearing loss will have trouble hearing almost everything except for very loud conversations and sounds. At this level of hearing loss, a person may even have trouble hearing sound when using a hearing aid and one-on-one conversations can still be difficult to understand.
With profound hearing loss, a person won't be able to hear sounds that are lower than 95 dB.
Types of Hearing Loss
So what are the main types of hearing loss and their treatment options? Here's what you should know.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that affects the middle or outer ear. Because of a blockage of some kind, sound waves cannot reach the inner ear.
There are many potential causes of this type of hearing loss. Some common conductive hearing loss causes include the following:
- Genetic abnormalities and deformities in the ear canal
- Collection of fluid, dirt, dust, or earwax
- Damage to the eardrum due to perforation or collapse
- Injury or trauma to the ossicles or bones within the middle ear
- Infection within the ears
This type of hearing loss can usually be reversed and may only require basic medicine or surgical intervention.
Generally speaking, this type of hearing loss can be treated with medical and surgical methods.
In the case of malformation and dysfunction of middle ear structures, failure of the ear canal to open at birth, and congenital absence, surgery can be used to correct the problem. In some cases, a hearing aid will be used to amplify the sound.
For middle ear infections, antibiotic antifungal medications may be used to treat the issue.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a type of hearing loss that results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea). It's also known as nerve-related hearing loss and is most common in people over 45.
Sensorineural hearing loss is typically permanent, but sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) can potentially be reversed if it's treated quickly. Despite its name, SSHL typically develops over the course of weeks or months, but the hearing loss comes on suddenly.
Some common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include the following:
- Head, ear, or neck trauma
- Over-exposure to loud noises and sounds
- Certain diseases
- Genetic causes
Sensorineural hearing loss could be accompanied by dizziness, pain, or ringing in one or both ears.
The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss will depend on its cause. To get to the root of your issue you may need to see a doctor and get recommendations for treatment options.
In many cases, the treatment option for this type of hearing loss will be the use of hearing aids. It may also be treated with hearing implants in some cases as well.
Remember, however, that sudden sensorineural hearing loss could be either permanent or temporary. Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, the treatment could include surgery and medical therapy which includes the use of corticosteroids.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss includes a combination of both types of damage listed above. There will be conductive damage to the outer and middle ear as well as damage to the inner ear.
The combination of these problems can make the symptoms of hearing loss even more severe.
When it comes to treating mixed hearing loss, typically a doctor will focus on the conductive hearing loss first. The conductive hearing loss issues may go away with the help of medicine or surgical treatments.
In the case of sensorineural hearing loss, a patient will likely receive a device such as a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.
Reducing the Impact of Hearing Loss
If you think that you may suffer from one of the types of hearing loss listed above, be sure to speak with your doctor about treatment options. Although hearing loss can cause significant problems, there are ways to treat hearing loss and reduce its impact.
Are you ready to buy a hearing aid? Contact us today to learn more about Beltone hearing aids.