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Hearing loss is not limited just to deafness. There are several different types of hearing disabilities, and each will affect the patient differently. In order to properly diagnose and treat hearing loss, you will need an audiologist to give you an examination.
Below is an overview of the different types of hearing loss. If you suspect you may have one of these problems, call (831) 216-1281 and schedule an appointment with our practiced Monterey audiologist.
This hearing loss may result from wax or infection in the external ear canal, from the hole in the eardrum, from middle ear infection, or from disease or trauma to any of the three middle ear bones. Conductive hearing losses are usually medically or surgically treatable by an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT) or Otologist (Ear Specialists).
A person with a conductive hearing loss may not hear speech loud enough. Once there is sufficient volume, words are usually understood. A conductive loss may be present at birth, it may be stable or get progressively worse over time, or it may fluctuate. Usually patients with conductive losses do not lose their hearing completely. If a conductive loss cannot be helped medically or surgically, hearing devices usually provide significant help.
A nerve loss is usually not medically or surgically treatable. The hearing loss may remain stable or it may gradually worsen. Complete deafness rarely occurs, but if it does a Cochlear Implant could help. A Cochlear Implant is a surgical procedure that places an electrode into the cochlea and an outside processor is worn. A person with a nerve loss can almost always be helped with prescription fit hearing devices and a self-help program provided by an audiologist.
People with nerve losses state that they can hear people talking but cannot understand the words clearly. They usually hear better in quiet environments than in background noise. They may have difficulty understanding TV and may turn up the volume up. Individuals with nerve losses usually understand some people better than others depending on the tone of the voice. As the hearing worsens they may accuse others of mumbling or they may become frustrated and/or embarrassed. In some cases, personality and lifestyle changes occur.
These hearing issues occur in some children and adults in spite of normal hearing. For example, the individual may have trouble understanding a list of instructions in a noisy environment, but do reasonably well when it is quiet. The person may have difficulty ignoring background noise while reading or writing. Children and adults often ask to have words or sentences repeated and may have trouble spelling or reading. Children may exhibit learning disabilities in spite of normal intelligence and motivation.
In many cases, no treatable cause is found for auditory processing difficulties. Some children have genetic influences while others have histories of speech/language problems or chronic early childhood ear infections. Strokes and other neurological conditions are found in some adults. A specialized evaluation by an Audiologist is necessary to identify an auditory processing problem.
Although there are usually no medical cures, proper counseling is very important. Hearing devices do not help, but there are several types of assistive devices that can provide significant benefit in school and work environments. A carefully prescribed coping and compensation program by an audiologist can be implemented so that the child or adult can achieve in spite of the communication problems. Careful follow-up testing several years after the initial diagnosis ensures continued compensation success.
There is a lot more to these hearing difficulties than what is listed here. Our Monterey audiologist is happy to answer any questions you may have about hearing loss and possible solutions. When it comes to hearing, if you don't use it, you lose it. Seek medical attention if you suspect that your hearing has started to go. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your chances are of mitigating damage.
We offer free initial consultations. Call (831) 216-1281 to schedule your appointment today.