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About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can occur at any age for a variety of reasons. Babies can be born with hearing loss due to complications of prematurity, family genetics, or a syndrome, to name a few. Addressing it early supports language and literacy development.
An adult acquires a hearing loss for many reasons such as the natural aging process, noise exposure, or head trauma. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. Some hearing losses occur due to middle or inner ear infections and can be treated with medication or surgery, in some cases.
Most cases of permanent hearing loss are managed through the use of personal hearing aids, cochlear implants, and/or assistive listening devices. Hearing loss can be gradual or sudden and often the true cause is unknown. For these reasons, it is important that individuals have their hearing assessed by a Hearing Health Care Provider as part of a routine health check-up.
What are the different types of hearing loss?
There are 2 types of hearing loss: Conductive Hearing Loss and Sensorineural Hearing Loss.
A person can have hearing loss that is part conductive and part sensorineural called Mixed Hearing Loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
A problem in the outer or middle part of the ear may cause a conductive hearing loss. This may be caused by a wax blockage, punctured eardrum or an ear infection. Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and can often be treated.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
A problem with the inner part of the ear or hearing nerve may cause a sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss tends to be progressive and permanent. Aging is the number one cause of sensorineural hearing loss. It can also be caused by very loud noise, disease, injury, certain medicines, or it can be congenital.
Congenital hearing loss can be either conductive, sensorineural, or both, and refers to hearing loss that was present when you were born. It can be hereditary (genetic) or it can be the result of other factors or conditions.
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is commonly known as sudden deafness. It is most often an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing in one or both ears. The most common causes are viral or bacterial infections, drugs that harm the sensory cells in the inner ear, or autoimmune diseases. The most common treatment for sudden sensorineural hearing loss is with corticosteroids.
This type of hearing loss should be considered a medical emergency. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should visit a health care provider immediately.