Being able to hear the sounds around us is often something we take for granted. However, hearing loss is more common than you think, with 15% of American adults reporting some level of hearing loss. Therefore, it might be good to understand a little better just how hearing loss occurs and what treatment options you have.
When it comes to hearing loss, there are two main types — conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. However, in this blog post, the Hearing Group specialists will focus on conductive hearing loss and show you just what to look out for and the different treatment options available.
Parts of the Ear
Before we take a closer look at the two main types of hearing loss, let’s take a look at the three basic parts of the ear:
- Outer ear — the outermost portion of the ear
- Middle ear — found between the inner and outer ear, includes the Ossicles, Malleus, Incus, and Stapes
- Inner ear — The innermost part of the ear consists of the Cochlea, Vestibule, and Semicircular Canals.
Types of Hearing Loss
As we previously mentioned, there are two common types of hearing loss, Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Conductive Hearing Loss. Hearing loss related to an issue in the inner ear or auditory nerve is a Sensorineural Hearing Loss. In contrast, when sound cannot get through the outer and/or middle ear, Conductive Hearing Loss would be suspected.
Untreated hearing loss can affect your overall physical and mental health. Furthermore, you may experience unique symptoms such as staggering, loss of balance, or migraine-like headaches. Because of this, a visit to your local hearing specialist is so important at the first sign of symptoms.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
You should look out for a few signs if you believe that you could have the start of conductive hearing loss. These include difficulty hearing soft sounds, and louder sounds may appear muffled. This is simply because sound cannot penetrate the outer and middle ear. Let’s look at some of the causes of conductive hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss causes may include any of the following:
- Wax build-up, earwax that becomes stuck within the ear canal. To protect the ear canal, the ear produces earwax. Body elements such as dead skin cells, hair follicles, and ear secretions make up earwax or “cerumen”. Consequently, our body naturally pushes out the wax or cleans our ears to remove the debris. Furthermore, an overproduction of the earwax can cause a short-term conductive loss of hearing.
- Adhesive otitis (middle ear filling with fluid) fluids can backup within the middle ear due to colds, allergies, and a poorly functioning Eustachian Tube. The Eustachian Tube is the hearing health pathway between the middle ear and the nose.
- An ear infection, external otitis, forms within the ear canal. Otitis can easily occur due to allergies, dermatitis, too much water exposure, or items that may irritate sensitive skin like hair spray or hair dyes.
- Foreign bodies such as toys that children get stuck in the outer or middle ear or bugs/insects that become trapped within the ear.
- Head trauma, a head injury, or trauma close to the ear, can cause a short-term or even permanent hearing loss.
- Heredity, sometimes people are born without some inner or outer ear parts, creating a deformed ear canal.
- Otosclerosis — unusual growth of the tiny bones (ossicles) in the middle ear.
- Perforated eardrum, the inner ear canal environment is very sensitive. A hole or perforation of the eardrum can occur. This could result from an infection, virus, loud noise, or even a rapid change in air pressure.
Symptoms of Conductive Hearing Loss
It is essential to identify the early stages of conductive hearing loss so that you can get professional help as soon as possible. If you notice any of the following symptoms of conductive hearing loss, we recommend contacting your local hearing center.
Conductive hearing loss symptoms:
- noticing your own voice sounds different
- trouble hearing voices
- voices sounding low or muffled
- an ear odor and/or discharge
- not hearing equally from both ears
- pain or pressure in one or both ears.
Conductive Hearing Loss Treatment
Conductive hearing loss problems can be treated, managed, or even reversed in some instances. Consequently, how the conductive loss is treated will be dependent on the cause of the loss. So, for example, if the cause is related to a build-up of earwax, your physician and/or hearing specialist will use special tools to remove the wax. The hearing loss should return to normal if wax was the only factor.
In contrast, for more chronic factors causing hearing loss, other options for treatment might include:
Digital Hearing Aids
Advanced hearing aids are an excellent option for a variety of hearing difficulties, and there have been so many advances in technology over the last 10 years in the hearing aid industry. The latest hearing aid technology has advanced features like Bluetooth for streaming, hands-free features, background noise reduction, and so much more. Also, they are so tiny they stay hidden behind the ear. No one will even know you are wearing them!
Medications are an option if your conductive hearing loss results from an ear infection or inflammation. For this reason, your doctor should be able to treat the loss with medication.
Surgery is required to repair any medical issue causing conductive hearing loss. These would be factors like unusual growth, fluid in the middle ear structures, trauma to the head, repair to the eardrum, etc. However, surgical procedures will generally be the last resort.
Conductive Hearing Loss Help
Conductive hearing loss can be scary, but there is no need to panic. Most conductive hearing loss cases can be improved if you watch out for the early signs. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with your local hearing specialist if you’ve noticed changes in your hearing and struggle with communication.
Looking for professional hearing help? Contact Hearing Group today to get comprehensive hearing health treatment and the best service.