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Professional Advice - Estes Audiology

Professional Advice - Estes Audiology - Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can have a major affect on a persons quality of life. Untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact on ones job, classroom experience, social life, as well as playing a role in mental and emotional health.
Hearing loss can be categorized by which part of the auditory system is damaged. Although there are many TYPES of hearing loss, the most common type is SENSORINEURAL (also called "cochlear" or "inner ear" or "nerve loss"); the second most common type of hearing loss is CONDUCTIVE. Other types of hearing loss include: mixed and central.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. More than 90 percent of all hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are: age related changes, noise exposure, inner ear blood circulation, inner ear fluid disturbances and problems with the hearing nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss reduces the ability to hear faint sounds. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear.  Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds and may result from earwax blocking the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstructions in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum or disease of any of the three middle ear bones.
People with conductive hearing loss may notice their ears seem to be full or plugged. This person may speak softly because they hear their own voice loudly. Crunchy foods, such as celery or carrots, seem very loud to the person with a conductive hearing loss and this person may have to stop chewing to hear what is being said.
To demonstrate a conductive hearing loss, gently and safely close your ears with your fingers. This will give you the feeling of a conductive hearing loss... you'll feel plugged-up, and you'll feel a little hearing impaired. Interestingly, some people may tell you they don't need hearing aids because they ONLY have a 30 decibel hearing loss. However, assuming you have normal hearing, when you plug your ears with your fingers, youll experience approximately a 25 decibel hearing loss - and you'll quickly realize that even a VERY MILD hearing loss is quite irritating and disconcerting!
All conductive hearing losses should be evaluated by an audiologist and a physician to explore your medical and surgical options.
On your first visit to an audiologist, he or she will start by asking you questions about your medical and hearing history.  Next, the audiologist will look into your ears using a light, called an otoscope, and check for anything in the ear canal that might affect the test results or require referral to your doctor.  Finally, the audiologist will conduct a test or series of tests to assess whether or not there is a hearing loss, what the cause of the hearing loss might be if loss is present, the degree of hearing loss and the best treatment options.

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