The types of hearing loss are classified by the part of the ear that is damaged or not functioning correctly. Hearing loss caused by problems in the outer ear and/or middle ear are referred to as conductive hearing loss. When the cause is problems with the inner ear (cochlea) it is referred to as sensory hearing loss, and when caused by the auditory nerve it is referred to as neural hearing loss. It most cases, sensory and neural hearing loss are grouped together and referred to as sensorineural hearing loss.
The degrees of hearing loss are classified as:
Mild hearing loss makes hearing soft noises and understanding conversations in noisy environments more difficult
Moderate hearing loss means an inability to hear both soft and moderately loud noises. Discerning speech becomes very difficult if there is background noise
Severe hearing loss makes even one-on-one conversations difficult without a hearing aid
Profound hearing loss means only some very loud noises are heard. A hearing aid is essential
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss describes hearing impairment in the outer ear or middle ear. It occurs when the sound vibrations cannot be conducted to the inner ear (the cochlea) through the outer and middle ear. You can easily mimic conductive hearing loss by simply plugging up your ears with your fingers – and there you have it! You will be able to understand speech, but only if it’s loud enough and if the background is not noisy. In many cases, and depending on the degree of hearing loss, a bone conduction implant – like the Baha 5 System – is the recommended treatment.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Typically occurring as you get older, although people can be born with this type of loss, sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear – the cochlea, or the auditory nerve. People who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss might perceive sounds, but they don’t always understand what people are saying.
Single-sided deafness falls under this type of hearing loss, describing unilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss – no hearing or very little hearing in one ear, and normal hearing in the other ear. This type of hearing loss is typically treated with a bone conduction system.
Mixed hearing loss
This type of hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Damage in both the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear is present. This type of hearing loss ranges in severity from mild to profound. People who suffer from mixed hearing loss describe sounds as being both softer in volume and more difficult to understand. Mixed hearing loss can also be treated with a bone conduction system, depending on the degree of hearing loss.
In the next article, read about the bone conduction solutions recommended for the treatment of conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and single-sided deafness.