Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease and yet continues to be one of the most unaddressed public health issues. With over 48 million Americans reporting some level of hearing loss it is important to understand how hearing works, what causes hearing loss and the negative affects of not seeking treatment.
How The Ear Works
Understanding Hearing Loss
There are four levels of Hearing Loss:
- Mild: Unable to hear soft sounds, difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments.
- Moderate: Unable to hear soft and moderately loud sounds, considerable difficulty understanding speech, particularly with background noise.
- Severe: Some loud sounds are audible but communication without a hearing instrument is impossible.
- Profound: Some extremely loud sounds are audible but communication without a hearing instrument is impossible.
There are four types of Hearing Loss:
- Conductive Hearing Loss: occurs when audible sound waves are unable to reach the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems with the outer or middle ear
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss: is most common, accounting for 90% of all hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when sound waves reach the inner ear; however, the cochlear “hair cells” or hearing nerve are not working properly.
- Mixed Hearing Loss: is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Sound waves are less efficiently transferred to the inner ear and, if they do reach the inner ear, the cochlear hair cells or hearing nerve do not receive them properly.
- Central Hearing Loss: occurs when sound waves reach the auditory nerve but the auditory nerve doesn’t send the electrical signals to the brain or the brain does not interpret these signals. In individuals with this type of hearing loss sound waves are often detected but may not be understood or interpreted.
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