Hearing Loss Overview
Did you know that 48 million Americans are diagnosed with significant hearing loss?
Hearing loss can affect people of all ages, but is most prevalent among people over 65 years old. Approximately 25% of people between the ages of 65 to 74 face hearing loss, with over 50% of those over 75 years old. The number people who experience hearing loss in this country is more than those with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and diabetes combined. Hearing loss is more prevalent than you’d expect, and it is the third most common health condition in the U.S., only trailing behind arthritis and heart problems.
Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive, Sensorineural, and Mixed Hearing Loss.
- Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when there is damage or blockage in the outer and/or middle ear. Sound is unable to be conducted adequately through the ear canal to the eardrum. It can be caused by buildup of earwax or fluids in the middle ear from a cold or flu which cause obstruction to sound waves being able to pass through the ear.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs within the middle or inner ear. There are two common types of sensorineural hearing loss: presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). When there is damage or malfunction to your inner hair cells, issues arise with translating sound vibrations into neural signals that is registered by your brain. When such damage occurs, they do not generate and cause this form of hearing loss.
- Mixed Hearing Loss occurs when you experience both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss at the same time. The sensorineural aspect of the hearing loss is permanent, while the conductive part may either be permanent or temporary.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss conditions can be caused by a plethora of reasons, ranging from a variety of medical conditions and disorders to obstruction to noise-induced, which all can affect our ability to hear or understand speech. Below is a list of causes of hearing loss:
- Congenital hearing loss (present at or soon after birth)
- Lack of oxygen at birth
- Inherited genetic disorder
- Head injury or trauma
- Major ear infections
- Injury to the inner ear/eardrum
- Noise-induced hearing loss (exposure to loud noises)