Hearing is not something that most people think about until they can’t hear. That’s why it’s essential to know more about hearing loss and the different types of treatment available for this condition. An audiologist specializes in treating hearing loss using various methods like medication, surgery, or even cochlear implants. Read on to learn everything you need to know about hearing loss.
Some of the common audiologist FAQs are:
What Is an Audiologist?
An audiologist specializes in diagnosing, managing, and treating hearing loss and balance disorders. Audiologists have completed extensive education and training in their field, including graduate-level coursework in anatomy, physiology, genetics, pathology of the ear, pharmacology, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness), and Meniere’s disease. They are also licensed to fit and dispense hearing aids. If you think you may be experiencing signs or symptoms of hearing loss, it’s essential to see an audiologist for a diagnostic evaluation.
What Is the Definition of Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is a decrease in your ability to hear sounds. This can be either a permanent or temporary condition.
What Are the Different Types of Hearing Loss?
There are three main types of hearing losses: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Each type has its own unique set of causes and symptoms.
Conductive Hearing Loss: A conductive hearing loss occurs when damage to the outer or middle ear prevents sound from being conducted effectively to the inner ear. Causes can include infection, obstruction by wax buildup or tumors, injury, or a congenital abnormality.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) and auditory nerve. The most common causes are loud noise exposure, certain medications, including antibiotics such as gentamicin, labyrinthitis infection in the inner ear (viral or bacterial), age-related hearing loss from long-term cumulative effects of aging on hair cells, cochlea & other factors like genetics.
Mixed Hearing Loss: Mixed hearing losses occur when both outer and inner ears are impaired. Causes include genetic syndromes and congenital disabilities that cause the malformation of structures responsible for sound transmission within the middle ear, loud noise exposure, and head or ear surgery complications.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
The most common sign of hearing loss is a gradual reduction in your ability to hear high-pitched sounds. You may also experience difficulty understanding conversation in noisy environments, feeling like people are mumbling, or having to ask people to repeat themselves often. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see an audiologist for a diagnostic evaluation.
How Is Hearing Loss Treated?
There are many different ways to treat hearing loss, depending on the severity and type of loss. Treatment options include medical devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, assistive listening devices, speech reading, and educational services.
What Are the Different Styles of Hearing Aids?
The main styles of hearing aids include:
Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) fits entirely within the ear canal and is almost invisible. This style amplifies sound but still allows you to hear background noise. It’s best for mild to moderate losses in both ears or severe loss in one ear.
In-the-ear (ITE) devices rest on your outer ear and direct amplified sound into your inner ear through a small tube that hangs down from the device. The ITE style can handle more severe hearing loss than the CIC, helpful if you have a significant high-frequency loss and need increased speech. In addition, it will make you understand without feedback at higher volume levels than other types of hearing aids provide.
Outer-ear or open fit hearing aids that sit behind the ear and provide a combination of direct amplification at lower frequencies and sound through your outer ear. This style is often used for people who have mild to moderate high-frequency loss but can be helpful with severe losses in some cases.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) devices are more extensive than other styles because they house batteries, microphones, controls, circuitry, and even receivers inside a plastic case that fits over the top back part of your ear. As a result, BTEs account for about half of all new hearing aid sales each year. In addition, they’re very versatile because they can be made virtually invisible when worn inconspicuously under the hair—ideal if you don’t want others to know you’re wearing a hearing aid.
Hearing loss is a common problem that can affect people of all ages. It is essential to understand the different types of hearing loss and how they can be treated. If you are experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss, it is necessary to see an audiologist for a consultation.