Hearing is communication between your ears and your brain. Sound waves enter your ear and travel through the ear canal to the eardrum where the sound waves vibrate the eardrum. The vibration of the eardrum sends the bones of the middle ear in motion to amplify sound. From there, the sound travels to the inner ear and then on to the brain where it is processed and interpreted.
Hearing loss affects people of all ages—one in eight people over 12 years of age in the United States has significant hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. Untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech and can negatively impact your social and emotional well-being—hearing impairment can decrease your quality of life!
Your ear has three parts: Outer Ear, Middle Ear and Inner Ear. Hearing loss occurs when one or more of those portions has a problem.
There are 3 types of hearing loss:
SNHL occurs when there is damage to the inner portion of the ear or the auditory nerve. SNHL is the most common type of hearing loss and is a result of damage to hair cells in the inner ear.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the outer or middle portion of the ear. This prevents sound for reaching the inner ear appropriately. Most cases of conductive hearing loss can be treated with medication or surgery. When it cannot be treated with those means, most people benefit from the use of a hearing aid.
A mixed hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the inner portion and either the outer or middle portion of the ear. It is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.