There are two primary types of hearing loss – Conductive and Sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss means the sound is not transmitted properly to the inner ear. This can be caused by wax, eardrum perforation, middle ear fluid or damage to the bones in the middle ear. Conductive hearing losses may be correctable with procedures in the office or surgery, depending on the cause.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the nerve endings in the inner ear or hearing nerve. The most common causes are noise trauma or aging of the hearing. There are also inherited forms of sensorineural hearing loss, which can begin in childhood or early adulthood. Hearing aids can help most people with sensorineural hearing loss. The sudden onset of sensorineural hearing loss should be evaluated immediately for rapid treatment and intervention.
Watch: Hearing Loss Explained
Effects of untreated hearing loss:
Research findings support the fact that correcting hearing loss with hearing aids has a positive impact on quality of life.
Hearing loss is associated with:
- Tension and stress
- Avoidance of social events
- Depression and loneliness
For those in the work force, hearing loss can certainly negatively impact overall life earning potential.
Findings by the National Council on Aging study (1997) of nearly 4,000 people, users of hearing aids and their families, found that “hearing aids are associated with improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with hearing loss regardless of the degree, mild or severe.” The devastating effects of hearing loss on quality of life is well documented. It is primarily an effect of reduced speech intelligibility. When hearing aids are fit appropriately, they improve speech intelligibility and the ability to function in life.
Tinnitus is a noise heard in the ear and is frequently associated with some degree of hearing loss. It can be a symptom of a more serious ear condition, sudden in onset, and unilateral or pulsatile in nature. Initial evaluation of tinnitus includes a thorough ear examination and hearing testing.