Types and Causes of Hearing Loss
Noise Causes More Hearing Loss Than Age
There are two main types of hearing loss (Conductive and Sensorineural), with markedly different causes and treatments.
- Conductive hearing lossis caused by physical obstructions or abnormalities, which block or inhibit the efficient entry of sound waves from getting deeper into the ear. The result is an overall lowering of volume and inability to hear faint sounds.
- Sensorineural hearing loss comprises 90% of all cases and is the type most commonly treated by hearing aids.* Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when damage or trauma affects the nerve endings in the inner ear or along the nerve pathways to the brain. Such trauma can occur from overexposure to noise, the aging process, use of certain medications and many other causes. The damage not only lowers the overall hearing level, but can selectively affect speech understanding, ability to hear certain frequencies, and other specific symptoms, which are unique to every individual.
Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss in the U.S.
Among all known causes: noise exposure, viruses, head trauma, aging, diseases, birth injury, drugs toxic to the auditory system, genetic syndromes and tumors.
Noise More a Factor Than Age
Prolonged loud noise is a more common cause of hearing loss than age (see pie chart at left). As future generations are exposed to ever-increasing levels of noise pollution, age will probably decrease, and environment increase, as a factor in causing hearing loss.
Noise can do more damage than you may think. And the risk is widespread. Every day, thousands of Americans expose themselves to noise levels that will almost inevitably lead to long-term hearing loss.**
What You Can Do
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually over time, making it hard to notice until it has already become advanced. In addition, the brain develops compensation methods that make it difficult to perceive your true hearing ability in an objective way. It’s important to receive a professional hearing examination. Miracle-Ear has the professional experts to help you through the process and discuss your results.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Damage to the nerve endings in the circled areas causes sensorineural hearing loss.
Common Sounds to Avoid
To prevent hearing loss, avoid exposure to any of these sounds if they last 15 minutes or longer, or wear ear plugs if you cannot avoid them:
- Busy freeway (car window open)
- Music - Live (including classical symphony, rock concert, dance club)
- Children's playground
- Subway car
- Jet skis
- Plane engine
* Source: "Hearing Aid Devices - Market and Corporate Developments"
** Source: League for the Hard of Hearing