Baylor University
Communication Sciences and Disorders
College of Arts and Sciences

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Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Identifying the symptoms of hearing loss is the first step in the journey to better hearing.

Symptoms:

  • Difficulty hearing and/or understanding women's and children's voices
  • Difficulty hearing and/or understanding conversations in groups
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves or speak more loudly/clearly
  • Family members expressing concerns about your hearing
  • Turning up the television louder than others in your home would like it
  • Avoiding social gatherings because it will be too difficult to hear

What are some causes of hearing loss?

  • Noise exposure (loud equipment, firearms, loud music)
  • Heredity
  • Viral infections
  • Ear infections
  • Aging process
  • Traumatic injury
  • Some medications

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be classified as one of three types: conductive, sensorineural or mixed.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Hearing loss resulting from conditions affecting the outer and/or middle ear is classified as a conductive loss. With a conductive hearing loss, the hearing organ and hearing nerves are intact and functioning normally, but the sound waves cannot effectively reach them. A conductive hearing loss may be caused by conditions such as wax build up in the earcanal, an ear infection, a hole in the eardrum, a problem with the bones of the middle ear. Typically this type of hearing loss may be helped with medication or surgery. If your audiologist diagnoses a conductive hearing loss, he/she will refer you to a physician. Patients with a conductive hearing loss who do not choose medical intervention or for whom medical intervention is not recommended may benefit from other options for better hearing. An audiologist can determine if a patient might benefit from hearing aids or assistive listening devices.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing loss resulting from damage in the inner ear (cochlea) or damage to the hearing nerve. In this type of hearing loss, nothing is blocking the sound from reaching the hearing organ. As sound travels through the hearing organ and hearing nerves it is distorted and unclear due to damage to these structures. Soft sounds may not be audible and loud sounds may be too loud. Typically with this type of hearing loss a patient's chief complaint is that they hear speech, but they do not understand the speech. As a result, turning up the volume of sounds does not resolve the complaint as distortion persists. An audiologist may provide solutions for better hearing. These solutions may include good communication strategies, hearing aids, and/or assistive listening devices.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Hearing loss resulting from a combination of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss is called a mixed hearing loss. If your audiologist determines that you have a mixed hearing loss, he/she will refer you to a physician. Upon receipt of otologic clearance, your audiologist may provide solutions for better hearing which could include hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices.

How do I know which hearing aids are right for me?

Your audiologist can take the guesswork out of choosing hearing aids. Your hearing loss, lifestyle, personal preference and budget will guide the audiologist to provide you with hearing aid choices that are appropriate for your specific needs.