Hearing loss is a permanent, incurable condition that can affect your way of life. Untreated hearing loss not only hinders communication, but it can also cause problems like anxiety, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Hearing impairment is a common ailment that comes with age. However, the elderly are not the only people who experience hearing impairment. Currently, there are close to 6 million young people suffering from hearing impairment in the United States. Hearing impairment can be caused by other factors than age such as biological or environmental factors.
Thankfully, there are several hearing loss treatments available that can enhance your quality of life and help counteract some hearing-loss conditions.
Understanding the three types of hearing loss and their causes
Hearing loss is a situation when one or more parts of your ear are not functioning normally or are causing problems in the pathway of your listening process. Hearing impairment is outlined in 3 different types. There are many causes related to each type, but we will discuss the most common causes of all three types of hearing impairment.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when the problem exists in the Outer or Middle Ear and the sound gets interrupted before it reaches the inner ear. This type of hearing difficulty can most commonly be found in children and indigenous populations. It is commonly caused by excessive earwax, ear Infections, fluid build-up, a punctured eardrum, or abnormal bone growth.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is almost permanent in nature and cannot be cured. It is a situation where the damaged or malfunctioning Cochlea of your ear, and/or the auditory nerve, are not sending the electrical information accurately to your brain. Noise-induced hearing damage is one of the most common hearing loss problem which comes under this category of hearing impairment. Noise-induced hearing problems develop because of prolonged exposure to loud noises. The other most common causes of this problem are aging, disease, or accidents.
Mixed Hearing Loss
The combination of both Conductive and Sensorineural Hearing Loss falls under this category of hearing impairment. With this type of hearing impairment, the Sensorineural aspect of the problem is permanent and the Conductive part of your problem has a chance of being cured, but only if it is curable in nature.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Regardless of which type of hearing impairment you suffer from, the first step is to seek a diagnosis if you experience any difficulties in hearing. This includes a physical examination by a doctor to check for any earwax or inflammation, a whisper test, an audiometer test by an audiologist, a tuning fork test, or even a self-diagnosing hearing check such as those available through apps. All these tests will help you and your doctor to determine the cause and the intensity of your problem. The following treatment options are available after determining the cause and severity of your case:
- Removing ear wax blockage: Doctors remove the ear wax with suction technologies available for ears.
- Surgery: There are some types of conductive hearing loss that are treatable with surgeries. It includes eardrum abnormalities or ossicles.
- Hearing aids: A permanent hearing impairment situation cannot be cured with any surgery but may be assisted with hearing aids. This method of treatment is very popular these days as there are many technologies available to make your ears as efficient as they should be with an almost invisible device placed on your ears.
- Cochlear implants: This includes bypassing the damaged or nonworking parts of your inner ear and stimulating the hearing nerve directly.
Different types of hearing aids technologies
Different hearing devices are made to assist you in dealing with hearing problems, but they are different in shapes and in the method by which they meet your particular needs. Consulting with an audiologist can help you find the most suitable hearing aid for you. Let’s discuss the different hearing aid technologies available:
- Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC): This style of hearing aid is usually custom-designed to fit into your ear canal and becomes completely invisible when worn. The device inserts into the ear canal and can be removed daily.
- Completely-In-Canal (CIC): These instruments are also custom-made to fit into your ear canal completely with only the tip visible, which helps to insert and remove the device daily.
- In-The-Canal (ITC): These are also custom-made to best fit in your ear canal with a very small portion visible in the outer ear.
- In-The-Ear (ITE): These types are specifically designed to fit within the outer portion of the ear.
- Receiver-In-Canal (RIC): Electrical wires are used in this technology to reduce distortion and the receiver is placed inside the ear canal. It is barely visible and provides a comfortable, open fit.
- Behind-The-Ear (BTE): This hearing aid technology is built in a casing that rests behind the ear. A clear plastic acoustical tube directs amplified sound into an earbud or a customized earmold that is fitted inside the ear canal.
Benefits of treatment beyond hearing
Although hearing impairment is not a curable condition, treatment options such as discussed above can make a significant impact in your quality of life. Untreated hearing loss can be detrimental to yourself and your family. The benefits of hearing loss treatments go beyond making it easier to hear, it can also block the annoying high-pitched ringing sounds known as tinnitus that affects many individuals. Additional benefits include increased work efficiency which results in greater earning potential, and slowing cognitive decline which can reduce the chances of developing dementia and prevent anxiety and depression.
No matter which type of hearing impairment you or a loved one suffers from, it is important to remember to seek a diagnosis at the onset of any symptoms. Regardless of what type of hearing impairment the diagnosis reveals, you can be confident that there are many hearing impairment treatments to choose from. Getting the right treatment for you can help you and your loved ones live a healthy, rich, and productive life.
Roseville Diagnostic Hearing Center
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing and are struggling with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!