TYPES OF HEARING LOSS
The three basic types of hearing loss are conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot travel through the outer or middle ear, while sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways that transmit sound to the brain. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
The degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the condition and is measured in decibels. The degree of hearing loss can range from slight, which may result in difficulty hearing faint sounds, to profound, which can result in a complete inability to hear. The configuration, or shape, of hearing loss, refers to the pattern of hearing loss across frequencies and is illustrated on an audiogram.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Fortunately, many resources are available to diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss. An inter-professional approach involving audiologists, speech-language pathologists, otolaryngologists, primary care physicians, and other specialists is often needed to provide comprehensive care.
Person- and family-centered approaches are also essential in providing hearing health care. It is crucial to involve individuals with hearing loss and their family members, significant others, caregivers, and support system members in the assessment, treatment, and management process.
Hearing loss is a complex and prevalent condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. However, with the correct diagnosis, treatment, and management, individuals with hearing loss can continue leading fulfilling and engaging lives.