The majority of hearing difficulties result from damage to the inner ear, referred to as Sensorineural or Nerve Hearing Losses. Power tools, factories, guns, lawn mowers, hair dryers, MP3 players, surround sound and freeways are just a few ways in which we are slowly and imperceptibly eroding our hearing, lessening the sharpness and reducing the clarity of the spoken word. In addition, there are genetic factors, illnesses, and medications which can also affect our ability to hear the world around us. These problems are typically permanent in nature and do not respond to medical or surgical intervention. In time, because of these difficulties, those with hearing loss often begin to withdraw from social gatherings and experience a wide variety of negative social and emotional consequences.
Problems effecting the Outer or Middle ear are referred to as conductive hearing losses. This type of hearing loss affects a person’s ability to conduct sound to the inner ear. These losses are common in children who suffer from ear infections, but can also be caused by a range of adult problems from simple ear wax to congenital malformations and calcium growths (also known as otosclerosis).
Hearing losses of this nature are often temporary and may be medically and/or surgically treatable. This type of hearing loss represents 5-10% of our nations hearing difficulties.
Mixed hearing loss is the combination of both conductive and sensorineural types of hearing loss.