Sound waves enter the outer ear and are funneled to the eardrum, which vibrates in response. These vibrations are transmitted to the middle ear bones, or ossicles, which include the malleus, incus and stapes—also known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup.
The stirrup transmits the amplified vibrations to the fluid that fills the inner ear, or cochlea. Tiny hair cells inside the cochlea are stimulated and produce nerve impulses that are carried to the brain and interpreted as sound.
There are three types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve deafness, occurs when the cochlea or nerve pathways to the brain are damaged. There is no medical treatment available to correct this type of hearing loss, which can affect your ability to understand speech clearly. Fortunately, hearing aids are often helpful in enabling patients with sensorineural hearing loss to communicate. Causes include noise exposure, aging, injury or trauma, ototoxic drugs, tumors, viruses and diseases.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently from the outer ear through the middle ear to the cochlea. This type of hearing loss is often medically treatable. In cases where surgery is ineffective, hearing aids can often help. Causes include wax buildup in the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, fixation of the middle ear bones or other pathology of the outer or middle ear, impacted earwax and poor Eustachian tube function.
Mixed hearing loss is the result of a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. The type and degree of hearing loss is determined by a comprehensive hearing evaluation where we test the acuity of different frequencies through earphones and a bone conduction oscillator placed on the mastoid bone. Treatment varies depending on the cause, and may involve both medical/surgical solutions and hearing aids.
Tinnitus has many causes; often, the exact reason for its occurrence is unknown. It may be the result of noise exposure, Meniere’s disease, ototoxic drugs, tumors, high or low blood pressure or medications. Tinnitus can be evaluated, and there are numerous products and therapies to help people cope with the affliction.
If you have a ringing in your ears, or simply a question about the information found on our website, please call us at 281.578.7500. We look forward to hearing from you.
- ASHA – Types of Hearing Loss Explained
- Hearing Loss Types, Causes, and Treatment Options
- Hearing Loss in Children – The Types of Hearing Loss
- Adult Audiology – The Three Main Types of Hearing Loss
- Freedom to Discover – Deafness and Hearing Loss Research
- The Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss
- Conductive Hearing Loss Causes and Treatment Options
- Treatment Options of Hearing Loss – Facts About Hearing Aids