Types of Hearing Loss
There are three main types of hearing loss dependent on where the hearing impairment originates.
Conductive • Damage in the outer or middle ear. The damage or dysfunction occurs in the outer visible ear, outer ear canal, ear drum, the space behind the ear drum, or some combination of these places. • Symptoms: Sounds may seem muffled or soft. Ears may feel plugged or stopped up – similar to the feeling of a head cold.
Sensorineural • Damage in the inner ear, hearing nerve, or both. • Symptoms: Hearing, but not understanding. Others appear to mumble, speak without clarity, or speak too quickly.
Mixed • Damage to a combination of conductive and sensorineural areas (both outer/middle ear and inner ear/hearing nerve) • Symptoms: A combination of conductive and sensorineural symptoms. Both loudness and understanding will be a problem. People may be difficult to hear and understand.
There are two other, less common, categories of hearing impairment. Functional and central. Functional loss is not a true hearing impairment in the sense of damage or dysfunction of the auditory pathways. In persons with functional loss, normal hearing is present, but some underlying psychological, emotional, or psychosocial issue is to blame for the complaint of decreased hearing sensitivity.
With central loss, normal hearing may also be present, but sound processing is affected. This interruption of normal sound processing may lead to similar symptoms of hearing impairment. Treatment for functional and central losses may be more therapy based than on traditional hearing aids. Make sure your hearing healthcare professional explains your hearing loss type, its consequences, and your options!
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