About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be experienced in varying degrees, such as mild, moderate, moderate-severe, severe, or profound. Additionally, hearing loss can also vary depending on pitches or frequencies. The volume of sounds you hear is measured in decibels (dB). To put this in perspective a whisper can be around 15-20 dB with a loud concert reaching levels around 120 dB. The softest sounds one can hear are called thresholds. Normal hearing thresholds for adults are considered 0-25 dB across the range of frequencies tested. A hearing test can help determine the severity and type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, which can be categorized conductive, sensorineural or mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the sensory receptors of the hearing system, specifically in the cochlea or auditory nerve of the inner ear. The majority of sensorineural hearing loss occurs as a result of an abnormality or damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. Damaged hair cells may be congenital or genetic, damaged by noise, medications, or infections but can also be a result of the aging process (presbycusis). No matter what the cause, this damage prevents sound from being transmitted to the brain normally, resulting in a hearing loss. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss often report muffled speech, difficulty hearing in background noise or that others do not speak clearly.
Sensorineural hearing losses are generally permanent and commonly treated with amplification (hearing devices) but may also include strategies to improve listening ability without a hearing device. The audiologists at Rocky Mountain Hearing & Balance will help develop a customized plan for your specific needs. When amplification is part of the treatment plan, our audiologists will help you choose the right device for your needs and then allow you to experience the Rocky Mountain Hearing & Balance difference with a 55 day day trial period.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the way sound is channeled to the inner ear or cochlea. Conductive loss occurs as a result of abnormality of the outer ear (pinna or ear canal), eardrum (tympanic membrane) or the middle ear (ossicles or Eustachian tube). The hair cells in the inner ear and auditory nerve remain unaffected in this type of hearing loss. Individuals with conductive hearing loss may report that sounds are muffled or quiet. Generally, when sounds are made louder, these individuals can hear well again.
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by outer or middle ear infections, complete earwax blockage, deterioration of the middle ear bones (ossicles), fixation of the ossicles (otosclerosis), or a hole in the tympanic membrane (ear drum). Conductive hearing loss can often be reversed with medical management. The audiologists at Rocky Mountain Hearing & Balance will work with your primary care physician to determine the best course of action. This may include working with your primary care physician to resolve the problem or referral to an ear specialist/surgeon (otologists and nuerotologists). In cases where conductive loss cannot be reversed, amplification (hearing aids) may be a recommended treatment option.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss occurs when a person has a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This means there is a problem in the inner ear as well as in the outer or middle ear. As noted above, the conductive portion of hearing loss can often be reversed with medical management. The audiologists at Rocky Mountain Hearing & Balance will work with your primary care physician to determine the best course of action, which may include medical management, hearing aids, or a combination of both.