Hearing Loss Intro & Types of Hearing Loss
loss affects about 30 million Americans and essentially is classified
as two types – sensorineural or conductive. For adults, about 95%
of hearing loss is sensorineural in nature and is commonly referred
to as “nerve damage”. This type of hearing loss is usually
a result of the aging process, noise exposure, and several other
factors. It is rarely treated by medical intervention and hearing
aids are the most common method of treating the hearing problems
associated with it. People with sensorineural hearing loss describe
an inability to hear speech clearly and frequently misunderstand
what people say. They describe speech as sounding muffled, and
report understanding conversation when in crowds and background
noise as very difficult. Loudness is usually not as much a problem,
mostly clarity of words.
Conductive hearing loss is not as common
in adults and almost always requires an evaluation and consult
with a physician. Some examples of a conductive hearing loss
are earwax impaction, fluid behind the eardrum, hardening of
the middle ear bones (otosclerosis), swimmer’s
ear, and other physical or medical signs/symptoms. Treatment
options can range from medicinal to surgical and/or being fit
with hearing aids.
It is possible to have a “mixed
hearing loss” which
is a combination of sensorineural and conductive.
Profound hearing loss
Profound hearing loss is the most extreme hearing loss.
A profound hearing loss means that you may not hear loud speech or any
speech at all. You are forced to rely on visual cues instead of hearing
as your main method of communication. This may include sign-language and/or
speechreading (also commonly referred to as "lipreading").
Severe hearing loss
People with severe hearing loss have difficulty hearing
in all situations. Speech may be heard only if the speaker is talking
loudly or at close range. A severe hearing loss may sometimes cause you
to miss up to 100% of the speech signal. Symptoms of severe hearing loss
include inability to have conversations except under the most ideal circumstances
(i.e., face-to-face, in quiet, and accompanied with speechreading).
Moderate hearing loss
A moderate hearing loss may cause you to miss 50-75%
of the speech signal. This means you would not have problems hearing at
short distances and understanding people face-to-face, but you would have
problems if distance or visual cues changed. Symptoms of moderate hearing
loss include problems hearing normal conversations and problems hearing
consonants in words.
Mild hearing loss
A mild hearing loss may cause you to miss 25-40% of
the speech signal. Usually this results in problems with clarity since
the brain is receiving some sounds but not all of the information. Symptoms
of mild hearing loss include problems understanding someone farther away
than a normal distance for conversation, or even up close if the background
environment is noisy. Weak voices are also difficult to understand for
people with mild hearing losses.
Unilateral hearing loss
A unilateral hearing loss is hearing loss in one ear.
Hearing in one ear is normal but the other ear is hearing-impaired. Symptoms
of unilateral hearing loss may include difficulty locating the source
of sounds, and problems hearing understanding speech in certain situations,
- Problems hearing faint or distant speech, especially if weaker
ear is closer to the person speaking
- Problems hearing in a background of noise — especially if the "good" ear
is close to the competing signal.
High frequency info to come.