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Three Main Types of Hearing Loss


A loss of hearig can range from a mild to moderate hearing deficiency to a total hearing loss. In general, there are three main types of hearing loss which differ from one anather depending on the part of ear that is affected. Be it the outer, middle, or inner ear.

Conductive HL    A conductive hearing loss is a problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. For example, a blockage or deformity in the middle ear can prevent the ossicles from vibrating properly. Middle ear infections or a ruptured eardrum are common causes of a conductive hearing loss. Often, a conductive hearing loss is temporary and can be treated with medication or surgery. When the hearing loss cannot be treated medically or surgically, the result is a permanent conductive hearing loss. In these cases, many people benefit from middle ear implants or conventional hearing aids.

Sensorineural HL    A sensorineural hearing loss is the result of a problem in the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when hair cells in the cochlea are missing or damaged. These hair cells are responsible for producing precise electrical signals that the brain needs in order to interpret sound when these hair cells are missing, the result is hearing impairment. When only some of the hair cells are damaged or missing, the hearing loss is classified as mild to moderate. In these cases, a middle ear implant, capable of vabrating the moving structures of the inner ear, or a conventional hearing aid may be a viable solution. Some individuals have a hearing loss only in the high frequencies also refered to as partial deafness. In these cases, only the hair cells at the base of the cochlea are damaged. In the inner part of the cochlea, the apex, the hair cells which are responsible for processing the low tones are still intact. Combined electric and acoustic stimulation, or EAS, was developed specifically for these individuals to maximise the use of their natural residual hearing. When the hair cells of the cochlea are completely absent or damaged, the person suffers from a severe to profound hearing loss. For many individuals with this condition, a cochlear implant may be the best solution.

Mixed HL    A mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses. Mixed hearing loss results froms prombles in the outer or middle ear as well as in the inner ear. Treatment options for this type of hearing loss include medication, surgery, hearing aids or middle ear implants. Your doctor will help you choose the solution best suited to your individual needs.

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