There are different types of hearing loss or impairment based on the functions that are affected. There are four main types. The different types can be caused by different things which you can learn more about here. Today, we want to take a look at the four different types of hearing impairment and what they mean. We will also have a look at the different levels of impairment.
Types of Hearing Impairment
- Auditory Processing Disorders – This type of impairment involves the brain’s inability to understand auditory information. In other words, the sound waves may get to the brain through the auditory nerve, but the brain doesn’t know how to interpret the speech or other sounds. It cannot work out where the sounds are coming from or what they mean.
- Conductive Hearing Loss – This type of hearing loss is caused by problems with the middle and inner ear structures and functioning. These two parts of the ear play the biggest role in our ability to hear and are responsible for carrying the sound waves to the brain. Causes of this type of hearing loss include ear infections, a punctured eardrum, fluid in the ear, etc. This type can be treated through surgery or certain types of hearing aids.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss – This type of impairment is usually permanent and cannot be easily fixed or reversed. It is caused by the malfunction or damage of the auditory nerve or the cochlea which is a very important ear structure. The cochlea sends the sound wave information to the auditory nerve which sends it to the brain for interpretation. Damage or malfunction of these two structures means that the information doesn’t get to the brain or gets there in a strange way that doesn’t make sense. Causes of this type of impairment include aging, loud noises, genetics, and medications.
- Mixed Hearing Loss – This occurs when both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss is present. The conductive hearing impairment may be treatable while the sensorineural probably isn’t.
Levels of Hearing Impairment
Mild – Mild hearing impairment or loss means that the person struggles to follow conversations in noisy situations. They have trouble isolating sounds and voices.
Moderate – Moderate hearing loss requires a hearing aid to keep up with sounds, noises, and conversations around the person. Sounds below 40 decibels are not picked up and cannot be heard.
Severe – People with severe hearing impairment cannot hear without a strong hearing aid or cochlear implant. The damage is of such a nature that lip-reading is often used to take part in conversations or understand what someone is saying or asking.
Profound – Profound hearing impairment means that there is almost no hearing ability. In some cases, even hearing aids do not help. People with profound hearing loss generally communicate through sign language and lip reading.
Hearing loss is more common than we may think and often people who can be helped or will benefit from hearing aids, do not realize it or won’t admit it. If you or someone you know are struggling with hearing ability, go see an audiologist and take precautions or actions to limit any further damage.