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Types of Hearing Loss

hearing lossBefore deciding on the right hearing loss treatment plan, your audiologist needs to know what type of hearing loss is affecting your auditory system. There are three categories of hearing loss, each of which results from damage to a different portion of the ear.

Conductive conditions affect the outer or middle ear, sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear and mixed hearing loss occurs when both portions are damaged.

Your Alexandria hearing loss doctor will determine what type of hearing loss you have through a physical examination, verbal hearing health assessment and complete hearing evaluation. During the evaluation, you can expect to undergo several simple hearing tests that provide a complete picture of your hearing health.

Along with revealing your hearing loss type, Alexandria audiologists can use these tests to identify the frequency, severity and scope of your hearing loss.

Degrees of Hearing Loss

There are seven levels of hearing loss. Permanent mild to severe hearing loss conditions are usually treated with hearing aids, while profound impairments often require bone conduction hearing devices or cochlear implants. The degrees of hearing loss are:

  • Normal (-10–15 decibels)
  • Slight (16–25 dB)
  • Mild (26–40 dB)
  • Moderate (41–55 dB)
  • Moderately severe (56–70 dB)
  • Severe (71–90 dB)
  • Profound (91+ dB)

Hearing Loss Frequency

Most Alexandria hearing loss patients struggle to perceive sound in a certain range of frequencies. Conditions that affect all frequencies can occur, though they are less common.

  • High-frequency hearing loss affects your ability to hear high-pitched sounds like birds chirping and women’s or children’s voices. This is the most common type of hearing loss.
  • Low-frequency hearing loss, conversely, affects how patients hear low-pitched sounds like tubas or thunderclaps.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Sensorineural (inner ear) hearing loss is by far the most common type of hearing loss in Alexandria patients, accounting for about 90% of cases. It typically occurs when the tiny hair cells of the cochlea are damaged. The most common culprits behind sensorineural hearing loss are aging and exposure to loud noise. Most cases of sensorineural hearing loss are treated with hearing aids.
  • Conductive hearing loss results from damage to the ear canal, eardrum or ossicles of the outer and middle ear. A few common causes include ear infections, fluid or wax buildups and allergies. Conductive conditions are usually temporary and can be treated with medication or surgery.
  • Mixed hearing loss is relatively rare and is caused by some combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing impairments. Depending on the condition, mixed hearing loss can be treated with medication, surgery or hearing aids.

Hearing Loss Scope

Hearing loss can develop in one or both ears.

  • Unilateral hearing loss occurs in just one ear. Single-sided hearing conditions are less frequent and account for an estimated 25% of all hearing loss. Severe or profound unilateral deafness is usually treated with bone anchored hearing aid implants.
  • Bilateral hearing loss affects both ears and is the more common type of hearing loss in Louisiana patients. Bilateral hearing losses typically match in severity in both ears, though the degree of impairment can vary between ears in some cases. More than 90% of patients with bilateral hearing loss benefit from wearing two hearing aids.