Because many Noopl users are new to the world of hearing assistance devices, we get a lot of questions about the science and mechanics of hearing loss. While there are numerous possible causes for hearing loss, there are three main types:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The most common type of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to structures of the inner ear or the auditory nerve. About 90 percent of adults with gradual hearing loss fall into this category, but it can also be genetic or caused by exposure to loud noise, and it presents in a variety of ways. Some people with SNHL have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds, and some have tinnitus or balance problems. Still others find that all voices are muffled, which makes it difficult to keep up with conversation in noisy environments.
“Presbycusis” is the term for age-related hearing loss, which affects about 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 74 in the US, and is most likely to become first noticeable after age 50. This type of hearing loss is often best served by hearing assistance devices, whether hearing aids, sound amplifiers or directional hearing devices like Noopl.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss involves obstruction or injury in the outer and middle ears, which prevents sound from passing through to the inner ear, where it gets interpreted for the brain. This type of hearing loss is more likely to occur as a result of an accident or medical problem than of aging. Causes include physical blockages of the ear from wax or fluid, infections, benign tumors, and damage to the eardrum.
Sudden conductive hearing loss resulting from illness or accident can require medicine or surgery to correct, but long-term solutions might include cochlear implants or hearing-assistance devices. It is important to see a doctor at the first signs of hearing loss because immediate treatment can be crucial for preventing long-term damage to hearing, especially in the cases of conductive hearing loss.
Mixed Hearing Loss
A combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses is not uncommon, particularly in people who are experiencing some genetic or age-based hearing loss in addition to another cause. Hearing tests are able to distinguish between the types of hearing loss so that solutions can be targeted. In the case of mixed hearing loss, more than one treatment might be available, such as a combination of surgery and hearing assistance devices.
Whether your hearing loss is sensorineural, conductive or a combination of the two, advancements in treatment options mean you will likely have numerous solutions and assistance devices at your disposal. Getting a good diagnosis is the first step.
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