Hearing loss, also known as deafness or decreased hearing, is defined as being unable to partially or completely hear sound in one or both ears.
There are three common types of hearing loss, including conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), and mixed hearing loss.
There are three parts of the ear associated with the hearing process. Sound waves first pass through the outer ear, causing the eardrum to vibrate. The eardrum passes these vibrations through the ossicles of the middle ear (hammer, anvil, and stirrup), which amplifies the vibrations as they pass into the inner ear. The inner ear is composed of a snail-shaped structure filled with nerve cells that convert sound waves into electrical signals that are interpreted by the brain. When something in this process becomes interrupted, hearing loss can occur.
Did You Know?
Contrary to popular belief, hearing loss does not only affect the elderly. In fact, as many as 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from some form of noise-induced hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Occurs when sound waves are unable to travel from the outer ear to the eardrum and into the middle ear. This type of hearing loss can make it difficult to hear soft, muffled sounds. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by ear infections, allergies, wax buildup, swimmer’s ear, benign tumors, or scarring of the ear canal from infections.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
Occurs when the inner ear structures or nerve pathways to the brain have been damaged. This type of hearing loss can make normal or loud sounds unclear or muffled. SNHL can be caused by birth defects, working around loud noises, aging, head trauma, Meneire’s disease, or acoustic neuromas. In some cases, certain infections or medications.
Mixed Hearing Loss
A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
How Hearing Loss Can Affect You
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Ear pain
- Severe and/or sudden hearing loss
At Anne Arundel ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery, we offer a variety of hearing loss treatments. Your exact treatment plan will depend on the type and extent of your hearing loss, as well as its cause. In some cases, hearing loss can be treated with antibiotics, while other cases may require surgical intervention and/or the use of hearing aids.
Hearing Loss Can Be Caused By:
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common cause of hearing loss. Depending on the intensity, frequency, and duration of a loud noise can cause both temporary hearing loss and permanent damage.
Sleep Apnea decreases vascular supply to the inner ear, which can cause both high and low frequency hearing impairment.
Popping your ears can tear your eardrum and cause hearing loss.
High glucose levels associated with diabetes causes nerve damage and blood vessel damage, which can interfere with proper hearing.
Smoking restricts blood flow and can interfere with proper healing.
Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen
Both types of pain relievers can decrease blood flow to the cochlea, resulting in hearing problems.