Patient Information

Patient Information 2017-10-25T08:17:47+00:00

TYPES OF HEARING LOSS

There are three basic types of hearing loss:

CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS
SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS
MIXED HEARING LOSS

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not sent easily through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss makes sounds softer and less easy to hear. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically.

Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss are:

  • Fluid in the middle ear from colds or allergies
  • Ear infection (otitis media)
  • Poor eustachian tube function
  • Hole in the eardrum
  • Too much earwax (cerumen)
  • Swimmer’s ear (external otitis)
  • Foreign body in the ear canal
  • Malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) happens when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. SNHL reduces the ability to hear faint sounds. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.

Some of the most common possible causes of SNHL are:

  • Aging
  • Ototoxic Drugs-medications that are toxic or cause damage to hearing
  • Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
  • Head trauma
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Exposure to loud noise

Mixed hearing lossoccurs when a conductive hearing loss happens in combination with an SNHL. In other words, there may be damage in both the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.

Below are some possible causes of UHL:

  • Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
  • An outer, middle, or inner ear abnormality

  • Syndromes such as Down and Usher syndrome
  • Illnesses or infections such as CMV, Rubella
  • Head injury
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Other descriptors or terminology associated with hearing loss are:

  • Bilateral versus unilateral. Bilateral hearing loss means hearing loss in both ears. Unilateral hearing loss (UHL) means that hearing is normal in one ear but there is hearing loss in the other ear. The hearing loss can range from mild to very severe. UHL can occur in both adults and children.

  •  Symmetrical versus asymmetrical. Symmetrical means the degree and configuration of hearing loss are the same in each ear. Asymmetrical means the degree and configuration are different in each ear.

  •  Progressive versus sudden hearing loss. Progressive means that hearing loss becomes worse over time.

  • Sudden means that the loss happens quickly. Such a hearing loss requires immediate medical attention to determine its cause and treatment.

  • Fluctuating versus stable hearing loss. Fluctuating means hearing loss that changes over time—sometimes getting better, sometimes getting worse. Stable hearing loss does not change over time and remains the same.

DEGREE OF HEARING LOSS

Degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss. The table below shows one of the more commonly used classification systems. The numbers are representative of the patient’s hearing loss range in decibels (dB HL).

Hearing Health Questionnaire
Degree of hearing loss Hearing loss range (dB HL)
Normal -10 to 15
Slight 16 to 25
Mild 26 to 40
Moderate 41 to 55
Moderately Severe 56 to 70
Severe 71 to 90
Profound 91+

Source: Clark, J. G. (1981). Uses and abuses of hearing loss classification. Asha, 23, 493–500.

It should be noted, however, that just because a hearing loss might be classified as slight or mild on the chart, it can be functionally debilitating or cause a person problems in learning, work or social environments.  Be sure to ask your hearing professional at Ear and Hearing Specialists of New Mexico if a hearing instrument would be right for you.

TINNITUS

94% of patients seeking care for tinnitus are not offered treatment!

  • Complexity of treatment is related to the patient’s distress level
  • Remove underlying cause if possible

Many of our patients are among the 50 million Americans who suffer from Tinnitus, noises in their ears. At Ear and Hearing Specialists of New Mexico, we are committed to providing our patients with the best and most current treatments possible for tinnitus. Our practitioners have spent a great deal of time researching innovative products and procedures so that we can be on the leading edge with regards to patient care.