Speech and Language Therapy
About hearing loss
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear in one or both ears. Depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. Congenital hearing loss means you are born without hearing. Gradual hearing loss happens over time.
A hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear is not working in the usual way. This includes the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, hearing (acoustic) nerve, and auditory system. Hearing loss can vary greatly among people and can be due to any of a number of causes.
Different types of hearing loss
Hearing loss is classified according to which part of the
auditory system is affected. Generally there are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is the result of disorders in either the outer or middle ear, which prevent sound from getting to the inner ear. Voices and sounds may sound faint, distorted or both. Some common causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- Infection of the ear canal or middle ear
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Perforation or scarring of the eardrum
- Wax buid-up
- Foreign objects in the ear canal
Most conductive hearing loss can be helped medically or surgically if treated promptly.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when inner ear nerves become damaged and do not properly transmit their signals to the brain. Patients may complain that people seem to mumble or that they hear, but do not understand, what is being said. The aging process is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. In addition to advancing age, sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by:
- Excessive noise exposure
Sensorineural hearing loss is not often medically or surgically treatable. Most sensorineural hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids.
Mixed Hearing Loss
If a hearing loss is the result of both conductive and sensorineural components, it is known as a mixed hearing loss.
Hearing loss in babies
In the United States, 2 to 3 babies out of every 1,000 born will have some degree of hearing loss at birth. The hearing loss can vary greatly among babies and may be due to causes such as a family history of hearing loss.
- Does your baby awaken or stir at loud sounds?
- Does your baby notice rattles and other sound-making toys?
- Does your baby respond to his or her name?
- Does your baby repeat some sounds that you make?
- Does your baby put two or more words together?
If you answered "no” to any of the above questions, your baby may have a hearing problem. Please visit the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center to learn more. If you feel isolated or overwhelmed, please visit the Lexington Mental Health Center for support.
Hearing loss in children
About 14.2% of American children between the ages of 3 and 18 have some degree of hearing loss. The hearing loss can vary greatly among children and may be due to causes such as exposure to loud iPods.
- Does your child turn up the volume of the TV very high?
- Does your child not reply when you call him or her?
- Does your child have articulation problems or speech/language delays?
- Does your child complain of earaches, ear pain or head noises?
- Does your child seem to speak differently from other children his or her age?
If you answered "yes” to any of the above questions, your child may have a hearing problem. Please visit Lexington Hearing and Speech Center to learn more. If you are feeling isolated or overwhelmed, please visit the Lexington Mental Health Center for support.