Hearing loss is a condition that affects approximately 48 million people in the U.S. alone. Admitting you have a problem, and seeking a diagnosis is often the first step in finding relief for this condition. There are three types of hearing loss, which are treated in different ways.
Types of Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, occurring when the inner ear nerves and hair cells are damaged, often due to exposure to excess noise or old age. This hearing loss affects your ears ability to send clear signals to your brain. Because this type of hearing loss is irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is most often treated with hearing aids
Conductive hearing loss is usually due to a blockage in the outer or middle ear. Common causes of this condition include a build up of fluid due to infection, tumors, impacted earwax, or injury to parts of the ear.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss mixed with conductive hearing loss.
More About Conductive Hearing Loss
Your ear is considered to have three parts, including the outer, the middle, and the inner ear. When there is a blockage or damage to the outer or middle ear it becomes difficult for sound to reach your eardrum in the inner ear causing sounds to seem muffled.
Conductive Hearing Loss Symptoms
Knowing how to diagnose conductive hearing loss from sensorineural can be extremely helpful. While all hearing loss shares similar symptoms there are few extra signs that can help you differentiate conductive from sensorineural hearing loss. These symptoms will vary depending what is the cause of your conductive hearing loss and may include:
- Reduce ability to perceive the loudness of sounds, while the clarity remains intact.
- Trouble hearing others speak
- Dose your own voice sounds different?
- One ear is clear while the other struggles
- Pain in one or both ears
- Pressure in one or both ears
- An unpleasant odor from the ear
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
There are a few different conditions that can cause an obstruction to the ear that would create conductive hearing loss including:
- Excessive or impacted earwax
- A build up of fluid in the middle ear due to infection
- Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis)
- Perforation of the eardrum
Treatment for Conductive Hearing Loss
Depending on what is the cause, your blockage will require different methods to treat your hearing loss. It is always best to seek professional treatment to diagnose your hearing loss. Do not try to diagnose and treat any hearing loss on your own as misdiagnosis can make problems worse than before. Have your general practitioner refer you to an audiologist to get the most accurate and best treatment for your condition. The good news is; while sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible, conductive hearing loss often can be fixed. When an obstruction is being cause by infection often antibiotics can clear up your hearing loss in just a few days. When the cause of conductive hearing loss is caused by a tumor or growth often surgery is utilized to remove what is blocking the pathway to the eardrum.
There are some preventative measures you can practice at home to make sure that some causes of conductive hearing loss do not progress. Often making sure that excessive earwax does not have a chance to build up is all it takes to prevent conductive hearing loss. These methods can work but it is important to be cautious and never insert anything hard or sharp directly into the ear canal as it can cause irreparable damage. There are tools such as extractors and cleaners to keep your ears free of wax build up so you can hear clear.
Sometimes just using a warm washcloth during a steamy shower is all it takes to keep your ears clear. If the problem persist it is always best to visit a professional to properly diagnose your hearing issues so you can make sure you get the most effective treatment and stay hearing healthy. The sooner you discover your hearing loss the faster you can find the relief you need.