Hearing Loss Basics

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Hearing Loss Basics

Hearing loss can be a confusing and frustrating experience. Our team at Andros Audiology in Inver Grove Heights, MN strives to help you understand hearing loss. We believe that education is the best way to prevent further damage to your hearing and to help enhance your ability to hear and experience life. Below, you can find information about the different types of hearing loss and the importance of receiving treatment as soon as possible.

Hearing Loss Inver Grove Heights, MN

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss refers to when sounds gets lost as it travels from the ear canal to the eardrum and middle ear. Patients with conductive hearing loss experience a reduced ability to hear faint or quiet sounds. This hearing loss can sometimes be cured through medication or surgery.

Causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • • Fluid buildup in middle ear due to a cold

  • • Allergies

  • • Ear infection

  • • Eustachian tube dysfunction

  • • Benign tumors

  • • Perforated eardrum

  • • Wax build-up

  • • Outer canal infection/Swimmer’s Ear

  • • Foreign Body

  • • Congenital malformation/abnormality

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is caused by inner ear damage, or interruption of the nerve pathways that lead from the inner ear to the brain. Most patients’ permanent hearing loss is caused by SNHL. Patients with SNHL may experience that they cannot hear faint sounds, and that they can’t hear louder sounds clearly.

Causes of SNHL include:

  • • Illness

  • • Genetics

  • • Head Trauma

  • • Aging

  • • Exposure to loud noises over a long period of time

  • • Inner ear defects

  • • Medications that damage hearing

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Tinnitus

Are you experiencing a ringing, buzzing, whistling, or other sounds in your ears, but don’t know where it is coming from? You are most likely experiencing tinnitus, which is when you have a sound in your ear that only you can hear. Tinnitus varies from person to person in the types of sounds it creates, as well as its severity. In more severe cases, it can cause inability to sleep, decrease in cognitive function, difficulty concentrating, problems at work and in relationships, and depression and anxiety.

Although currently there is not a cure for tinnitus, our team can work with you to provide relief. We often use sound therapy, which is when we use other sounds to drown out the noise created by tinnitus. To do this, we can provide hearing aids that will amplify the sound around you. We will work with you to determine what solution is best for your needs.

Hearing Loss Assessment

Adult Hearing Assessments

An adult hearing assessment consists of the following:

  • • Otoscopy: A visual exam of the ear canal and ear drum.

  • • Pure tone measures. Allows us to determine a patient’s hearing levels to diagnose and treat hearing loss.

  • • Speech measures. Patient hears series of words that they will have to repeat.

  • • Tympanometry. Exam of the middle ear, eardrum and conduction bones by making air pressure variations inside the ear canal.

Pediatric Hearing Assessments

A pediatric hearing assessment consists of the following:

  • • Otoscopy: A visual exam of the ear canal and ear drum.

  • • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA): A test designed for children ages 6 months to 3 years in which they use toys and animations in response to different sounds.

  • • Conditioned Play Audiometry (CPA): A test for children ages 3 to 5 in which they use play to respond to different sounds.

  • • Conventional Audiometry: A test for children five years and older. Children either push a button or raise a hand in response to sound, and then they will repeat words that they hear.

Infant/Newborn Hearing Assessments

An infant/newborn hearing assessment consists of the following:

  • • Otoscopy: A visual exam of the ear canal and ear drum.

  • • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs): A test of the OAEs, or sounds that the cochlea produces when its sensory hair cells move in response to different tones.

  • • Tympanometry. Exam of the middle ear, eardrum and conduction bones by making air pressure variations inside the ear canal.

Prevention

Many cases of hearing loss are caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise, which causes damage to the sensitive hair cells of the cochlea. However, it is possible to protect yourself from hearing loss. When you know you are going to be in a loud environment, you should wear earplugs or earmuffs. Turn the volume down when you are listening to TV, radio or music. Damage to your hearing due to noise cannot be reversed, but you can prevent further damage from occurring. Our doctors of audiology can recommend and dispense appropriate, custom-fit protection to suit your individual needs.

Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss

It is more likely for seniors with untreated hearing loss to develop dementia, because the brain is working too hard to comprehend sound and then doesn’t have the resources needed for thinking and memory. Those with hearing loss may experience a decrease in cognitive function. Those with hearing loss may experience mental and emotional health issues, because the hearing loss may cause them to stop taking part in their favorite activities or socializing with family and friends.

If you have untreated hearing loss, your income may suffer because of reduced ability to perform your job.

It is so important that you visit an audiologist as soon as possible if you suspect you may have hearing loss. Through treatment, we can help protect you from the consequences of untreated hearing loss.

If you have any questions about hearing loss or wish to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 651-888-7888. Read our blog for even more information about the importance of protecting your hearing!