Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions for adults as we age. Reasons for hearing loss range from age related diseases to prolonged exposure to loud noise, head or ear trauma, infections, medications, and hereditary or congenital conditions, to name a few. It is estimated that as much as 90% of individuals who suffer from hearing loss have a condition in the inner ear that cannot be treated medically or surgically.
Hearing loss is classified as sensorineural, conductive or a combination of both.
The sensorineural type of hearing loss is the most common. Roughly 90% to 95% of all hearing aid wearers are afflicted with sensorineural hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss is associated with abnormalities to the cochlea or its nerve. People with this type of hearing loss often have their televisions too loud or frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
This type of hearing loss may also affect the ability to understand speech, especially within noisy environments. The higher frequency ranges of one's speech are the sounds made by the letters "s", "ch" and "t" and are often affected by sensorineural hearing loss.
The conductive type of hearing loss occurs when sounds are not transmitted or "conducted" properly through the ear canal, eardrum and/or the middle ear.
Causes of conductive hearing loss may include a build up of earwax (cerumen) blocking the ear canal, other obstructions in the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, infections (external otitis or otitis media), perforations (holes) in the eardrum and tumors or other diseases in the middle ear. Additionally, abnormalities in the ossicular chain (hammer, anvil, stirrup) can also cause conductive hearing loss.
Those inflicted with conductive hearing loss may benefit from surgery or other medical procedures.