Hearing is an important part of how we interact with the world, but it can be compromised in many ways. According to statistical data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with a detectable level of hearing loss (in one or both ears), and over 90% of deaf children are born to parents with normal hearing. It is also a cause for concern for adults, as 15% of U.S. adults deal with some level of hearing loss, mainly in their 60s.
If you struggle with hearing issues and live in the Kissimmee or Orlando, Florida area, Drs. Wade Han, Elvira Livigni De Armas, and our dedicated team at Florida Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center are here to help—starting with the information in this post. Before you make your appointment, it helps to understand the two types of hearing loss, their causes and symptoms, and available treatment options. Here’s what you need to know.
Your ears consist of three main parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Hearing results from a sound first passing through the outer ear and the vibration of that sound being amplified in the middle ear. These vibrations then pass through a fluid in the inner ear in a structure called the cochlea. The nerve cells in the cochlea are attached to tiny hairs that translate the vibrations into electrical signals which are sent to your brain and are turned into sound.
Hearing loss often results from inner ear damage, ear infections, abnormal bone growths or tumors, a rupture in the eardrum, or a buildup of earwax. Risk factors for hearing loss include extended exposure to loud noises, occupational or recreational noises, some medications, and certain illnesses. Heredity and aging can also play a part in hearing loss (age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis). Any of these can lead to common experiences associated with hearing loss, such as muffled sounds, difficulty understanding words, and a need to adjust the volume or ask people to repeat themselves.
Here are the types of hearing loss you can experience:
This is commonly due to some form of blockage in the outer or middle ear, which can result from an infection, earwax, or fluid buildup. This makes loud noises more difficult to make out and softer sounds hard to hear.
This is when hearing issues affect your inner ear or auditory nerve. This can happen due to loud noises, disease, or presbycusis. Children with congenital hearing problems often deal with this type. It can also happen to them due to complications of trauma during childbirth, head injuries, or infections.
These issues can affect one or both ears. It is also possible to have both types, which is referred to as mixed hearing loss.
Treatment will depend on where the damage is in the ear, as well as the extent of it. Conductive loss affects the outer and middle ear, which can be managed with wax buildup removal, medications, or surgery (draining the ears of excess fluid or removing abnormalities). Surgically implanted devices can also help in some cases (osseointegrated devices like Baha or Ponto systems). Sensorineural loss is generally permanent and can be treated with corticosteroids (for sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or SSHL), surgery, hearing aids, or cochlear implants.
Regardless of which kind of hearing loss you have, there are ways to help, and we’re here to do just that. Make an appointment at Florida Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center today to get the help you need.