Hearing Loss Types
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 1 in 8 people from
12 years of age and older have hearing loss in both ears. This means that 13 percent or 30 million
people in the United States are personally affected by hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is one of the most common types of hearing loss observed. This hearing loss means that a person has damage in both the inner part of the ear and the nerve that sends sounds to the brain. Individuals with this type of hearing loss typically cannot be treated by medicine or surgery. The most common form of treatment is hearing devices on the ear or ears that are affected. Hearing does not typically recover from this form of hearing loss, so routine hearing evaluations and annual checks are recommended to monitor a decline and to make sure that it is properly treated.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is also commonly known as medical hearing loss. Symptoms may include muffled hearing, sudden loss of hearing, a full sensation in the ear, dizziness, or pain in the ear. Often it is addressed with medications and is monitored by a patient’s Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctors (ENT) or their Primary Care Physician (PCP). This hearing loss is common with younger children who have ear infections, but it can also affect adults who experience an ear infection, impacted ear wax, a foreign body in the ear canal, or swelling of the ear canal. Full recovery can often be met after treatment.
Unilateral Hearing Loss
Unilateral hearing loss is hearing loss that is only in one ear, which can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include problems locating sound and understanding speech in noise. This can be a result of many different factors. Unilateral hearing loss can be seen at birth due to an infection of the ear. Other factors include trauma to the affected side, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or stroke. In some cases, the cause is unknown. If a hearing loss is great enough to be addressed, amplification on whichever side will be recommended, or other options depending on the severity.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and Conductive (or medical) hearing loss. For example, someone can have an ear infection that is causing hearing loss but also has permanent hearing loss (SNHL). Medical hearing loss is often treated with medication or surgery by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Doctor or the patient’s Primary Care Physician (PCP). After the medical intervention, a patient will return to address their permanent hearing loss with proper amplification.