Learn about the different types of hearing loss and tinnitus and how the audiologists at Northwest ENT and Allergy Center can help you improve your hearing and quality of life. 

At Northwest ENT and Allergy Center, we offer a comprehensive evaluation and complete management of various degrees of hearing loss in infants, children, adolescents, and adults through our diagnostic audiology testing.

Have you noticed a change in your hearing or have you experienced hearing loss?

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There are two primary types of hearing loss -- Conductive and Sensorineural: 

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot be transmitted properly to the inner ear. This is generally caused by a blockage, infection or trauma to the middle ear. 

Causes

  • Wax buildup
  • Eardrum perforation
  • Middle ear fluid
  • Damage to the bones in the middle ear

Conductive hearing losses may be reversible through in-office procedures or surgery, depending on the cause.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the sensory cells or nerve endings in the inner ear. This generally affects older adults who lose their hearing over time. 

Causes

  • Noise trauma 
  • Aging 
  • Genetics

Although this type of hearing loss is permanent, 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.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring or ringing perceived in the ear and is frequently associated with some degree of hearing loss. 

Tinnitus can impact your daily life by increasing levels of anxiety, moodiness and sleep disruption. The phantom noises range from annoying to debilitating and patients often feel desperate by the time they see us.  

Tinnitus is not a specific disease or type of hearing loss; it can be a symptom of a more serious ear condition. Tinnitus can be sudden in onset, unilateral and/or pulsatile in nature. 

Symptoms vary from person to person, so a personalized treatment approach works best. 

At Northwest ENT and Allergy Center, our initial evaluation of tinnitus includes a thorough ear examination and hearing testing. When complete, your audiologist will discuss the best and most effective options for relief. 

Hearing Tests

The results of the hearing tests performed by your audiologist will determine the extent of your hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Tests

  • Tympanometry is used to detect disorders of the middle ear such as chronic ear infections, fluid behind the eardrum, abnormalities with the middle ear bones or a hole in the eardrum. 

    Tympanometry also helps to differentiate between the two types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural.
     
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs) are sound waves that are generated by the inner ear. By measuring these sound waves, we can evaluate inner ear health. 

This test is often used to identify hearing defects in infants and children who are too young to cooperate in conventional hearing tests.

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