Types of Hearing Loss
Types of Hearing Loss
There are various different types of hearing loss. Hearing loss can manifest in various ways, each with its own unique characteristics and underlying causes. Just as people are individuals, hearing loss is specific to the individual person. Understanding the different types of hearing loss is essential to determine appropriate interventions and optimal hearing loss assistive technologies. Although the types of hearing loss can be different, the lipreading challenges remain more or less the same. Whatever the type of hearing loss you are experiencing, you can be sure that learning how to lipread will help you get on with living your life. Here are some of the most common types of hearing loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot effectively travel through the outer or middle ear to the inner ear. Common causes can include earwax blockage (glue ear is especially common in children), ear infections, perforated eardrums, or complex issues with the tiny ear bones (often colloquially known as the hammer, anvil and stirrups). This type of hearing loss is often addressed with medical or surgical interventions, and hearing aids may also be beneficial.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear's hair cells or the auditory nerve. It is typically permanent and can be caused by factors like aging, exposure to loud noises, genetic predisposition, or certain medical conditions. Sensorineural hearing loss is commonly treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants, depending on the degree of hearing loss.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that there may be issues in both the outer or middle ear and the inner ear or auditory nerve. Treatment options can vary depending on the specific causes and may involve a combination of medical, surgical, and hearing aid interventions.
Understanding the particular type of hearing loss an individual has is a critical step in developing a personalised management plan. Audiologists and hearing care professionals can conduct comprehensive assessments to determine the specific type and degree of hearing loss, allowing for the most appropriate interventions to be recommended.
High-Frequency and Low-Frequency Hearing Loss
High-Frequency Hearing Loss
High-frequency hearing loss primarily affects the ability to hear sounds in higher frequency ranges. It is often associated with aging and can be caused by exposure to loud noises. Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss may struggle to hear certain consonants, making it difficult to understand speech fully, especially in noisy environments (this is probably the most common complaint made in lipreading classes!). Hearing aids can be tailored to address this specific type of hearing loss, but they do not tend to help much in environments with lots of background noise..
Low-Frequency Hearing Loss
Low-frequency hearing loss mainly impacts the ability to hear sounds in lower frequency ranges. It can be caused by issues with the cochlea and may affect one's ability to hear vowel sounds. This is problematic, as vowels feature heavily in the English language! Low-frequency hearing loss can make speech sound muffled. Treatment options may involve hearing aids designed to enhance low-frequency sounds.