Over 3 million people in Australia report that they can not hear properly, so with Hearing Awareness Week approaching, there’s never been a better time to learn about the types of hearing loss experienced by so many of us.
Hearing loss can occur anywhere along the pathway from the ear canal to the brain and can be present from birth or acquired later on. There are different ways of classifying the hearing loss depending on which part of the pathway is not functioning properly.
When it occurs in the ear canal because of a wax blockage or damaged ear drum it is referred to as a conductive loss. This is also the case when the problem occurs in the small bones within the ear. These types of hearing loss can happen because of an injury to the ear or by a congenital disease.
If you have a conductive hearing loss, you cannot become completely deaf as sounds can make it past the middle ear to the inner ear. Rather than the quality of the sound being lost, it is the quantity.
Hearing loss that occurs beyond this part of the ear at either the cochlear or hearing nerve, is knows as a sensorineural hearing loss and can occur because of excessive exposure to sound or chemicals, age as well as other diseases. This type of loss in usually permanent and affects the quantity and quality of sound, meaning that not only are sounds softer, but they may also sound distorted.
A mixed hearing loss involves both a conductive hearing loss and a sesorineural hearing loss. An example of this would be if you have a permanent hearing loss due to noise exposure and the ear canal is blocked with wax at the same time.
Author: Tanya Wilson
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