Approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.

That’s a significant amount of people, and one might assume that the cause of their hearing loss is all the same. But when it comes to hearing loss, one size does not fit all.

Sure, some of the early symptoms might be similar – the volume on the TV seems too low, keeping up with conversations is a guessing game, and the question, “Could you repeat that, please?” becomes asked more frequently.

Many patients may also become frustrated, anxious, and even withdraw from social activities. It is around this time that they consider seeking help.

However, there are actually three different types of hearing loss – conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss. Each of them has different causes and treatments.

In this blog, we’ll explain the different types and how we can treat them.

Conductive hearing loss

If you have conductive hearing loss, there is most likely something blocking the pathway from the outer ear to the inner ear. The sounds around you have no chance of getting through.

Causes can include earwax build up, an ear infection, a damaged or broken eardrum, or there may be a problem with the small bones that are found within the middle ear.

Most of these blockages are only temporary. Medication or surgery should resolve your hearing issues and your hearing will return to normal.

If neither option is possible, your hearing loss is then considered a permanent conductive hearing loss. We will then recommend hearing aids or possibly a middle ear transplant to improve your hearing.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This type of hearing loss is caused by damage to the delicate structure of the ear. Unfortunately, it can be permanent and it can even continue to deteriorate.

Often it is the cochlea that becomes damaged. The cochlea is located within the inner ear and it looks like a snail’s shell. Inside, it is lined with fine hair-like sensors that convert sounds into nerve messages. The brain receives and processes the messages. Damaged sensors mean the message doesn’t get through to its destination and so your hearing ability is affected.

The most common cause is exposure to loud noise. Other causes can include head injuries, aging, Meniere’s disease, illnesses, and ear malformations.

Hearing aids will often help. For significant hearing loss, cochlear implants are an alternative to explore.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Occasionally, a person can have mixed hearing loss. This is basically a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Not only is the outer or middle ear damaged, but there is also a problem with the inner ear or the pathway leading to the brain.

Treatment consists of medication or surgery plus a hearing aid.

Come and see us

If you suspect you have a hearing loss, then a hearing test at Fox Valley ENT is the step in the right direction. Not only will you learn if you definitely have a hearing loss, but you will find out what kind you have and we will treat it accordingly.

With offices in Algonquin, Elgin, and St. Charles, Fox Valley ENT strives to improve our patients’ lives. To begin your journey to better hearing, contact us today to arrange a hearing test with one of our friendly audiologists.

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Joseph, T Pacer

Joseph, T Pacer

Joe Pacer has been an Audiologist with Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates since 1988. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from Northern Illinois University in 1986 where he continued and received his Master of Arts in Audiology in 1988. He is a member of the American Academy of Audiology. Joe works closely with his patients and has extensive experience performing hearing evaluation as well as recommending, fitting and trouble shooting hearing aids.