The structure of the ear
Knowing a little bit about the three main parts of the ear can help you better understand the type of hearing loss you may be suffering from.
- The outer ear is the external portion of your ear that is visible along with the ear canal.
- The middle ear includes the eardrum, three ossicle bones, and the Eustachian tube.
- The inner ear includes the cochlea (involved in hearing) and the semicircular canals (a component of your balance system).
There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear. This can be due to blockages such as earwax buildup, middle ear infections, structural issues, or a perforated eardrum. In some cases, conductive hearing loss is present at birth or develops over time due to age-related changes in the ear.
Someone suffering from conductive hearing loss may notice that everything sounds normal, just quieter or muffled.
Common causes of conductive hearing loss
- Earwax buildup
- Middle ear infection (otitis media)
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Perforated eardrum
- Fluid in the ear
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noise, certain medications, head injuries, and aging. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be reversed. However, it can be slowed down with proper management.
Someone suffering from sensorineural hearing loss may notice that sounds seem distorted or jumbled.
Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noise
- Certain medications (ototoxic drugs)
- Head injuries
- Aging (presbycusis)
- Diseases (meningitis, encephalitis, vestibular neuritis)
Don't delay getting support for your hearing loss
If you think you may be suffering from hearing loss, it is important to schedule an evaluation. Catching hearing loss early is crucial to slowing its progression. There are treatments available for both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, so don’t hesitate to schedule.Schedule an evaluation
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