What Are the Main Forms of Hearing Loss in Adults?
About 5% of the global population has hearing problems. These issues tend be a lot more common with adults, since hearing function declines over time.
Knowing about the different types of hearing loss can help specialists determine the best treatment options appropriate for an individual’s condition. Before we dive into the different types of hearing loss, let’s first discuss the nature of hearing loss.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss refers to an individual’s impairment in interpreting sound. It can affect anyone regardless of age, but primarily affects individuals with advancing age, usually those aged 60 years old and above. Presbycusis is the term used to refer to hearing loss due to old age.
In most cases, those who have hearing problems would often complain of tinnitus or the presence of ringing in their ears, vertigo, or ear pain. Hearing loss in adults, except those caused by trauma, often happens gradually, so expect symptoms to vary from one individual to another. Still, the most common early sign is the inability to hear sounds that have a high pitch, such as the ringing of the telephone.
Different Types of Hearing Loss In Adults
Hearing loss in adults can be categorized into these following types:
Sensorineural is a hearing loss disorder can be gradual and often impairs hearing in each ear. The main reason for the hearing loss is the impairment of cochlea function, the component that is primarily responsible for processing sound. The cochlea comes with cells receptors that are made for processing sensory inputs, which are the cells that help detect sound vibrations that are passing through the inner ear. These vibrations are converted into electrical signals that reach the brain, which processes the signals and recognizes them as sound. If the hair cells are damaged, it would be harder for the brain to interpret the signals, resulting in an unrecognizable noise or muted speech.
In adults, the biggest cause of this type of hearing problem would be the degeneration of these hair cells. However, it is also possible that individuals who are repeatedly exposed to intense levels of noise can also impacts how these hair cells function. In some cases, chemotherapy drugs and diuretics can also cause this problem.
Conductive hearing problems are less common and less severe than hearing loss with sensorineural features. It is often reversible, as the damage usually affects the outer and middle ears. Both of these parts work together to send the mechanical vibrations through the cannel before they reach the inner ear, where they undergo translation before they are sent to the brain for interpretation. Any disruption in the flow of signals from the outer ear to the inner ear can cause reduced hearing. According to Helix Hearing Care, impacted earwax and ear infections can prevent middle ear structures from functioning optimally and can lead to temporary hearing loss. A simple removal of accumulated earwax and treatment of middle ear infections can be enough to restore hearing.
Conductive hearing issues can also be due to trauma to the eardrum. In adults, the most common cause would be inserting cotton swabs into the ear, which can rupture the eardrum. Exposure to a loud explosion can also cause a ruptured eardrum.
Some individuals may suffer a hearing loss that can be due to conductive problems in the outer and middle ear and sensorineural issues in the inner ear. When both conditions are present, the diagnosis will be the result of more than one type of hearing issue.
Should you think that you may be suffering from hearing loss, you must undergo testing so specialists can identify the type that you may be suffering from. Their findings will guide them on the best treatment options that would be appropriate for your condition.
Hearing Loss Must Be Taken Seriously
Hearing loss is a common problem, especially among older adults. It should be taken seriously and proper treatment should be pursued.