If you’re suffering from hearing loss in Portland, you are not alone: this condition affects roughly 38 million Americans of all ages. But your hearing loss isn’t necessarily the same as your friend’s or neighbor’s. There are different types of hearing loss, and a variety of causes.
Hearing loss is categorized by which part of the auditory system has been damaged, and is divided into three main types.
- Conductive hearing loss. This is associated with a problem in the outer or middle ear, and may be caused by fluid buildup, ear infection, impacted earwax, allergies, foreign objects in the ear, malfunctioning Eustachian tube, abnormal bone growth, swimmer’s ear, malformations of the outer or middle ear, or a benign tumor. Conductive hearing loss is often treatable with medication or surgery. It is usually mild to moderate in severity.
- Sensorineural hearing loss. The result of damaged hair cells in the inner ear, this type is also known as nerve deafness. About 90% of patients with impaired hearing have this type of hearing loss. It may be caused by aging, noise exposure, viral infections, trauma, ototoxic medications, hereditary factors, autoimmune disorders, Meniere’s disease, malformations of the inner ear, or benign tumors. Most cases of sensorineural hearing loss are permanent, but patients can usually be treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Patients with mixed hearing loss experience problems with the outer or middle ear as well as the inner ear. Treatment might include a combination of medication, surgery and hearing aids.