A loss of hearing can occur in any area of the ear, or the auditory (hearing) system isn’t functioning in the normal way.
The outer ear can be comprised of:
- the area we look at in our head’s sides, also known as the pinna
- the canal in the ear.
- The eardrum, often referred to as the tympanic eardrum, divides the middle and outer ear.
The middle ear is comprised of:
- the eardrum
- Three tiny bones called Ossicles which transmit the motion of the eardrum to the inside of the ear.
The ear’s inner part is comprised of:
- the organ that resembles a snail to hear dubbed the cochlea
- the semicircular canals, which aid in balance
- the nerves that connect to the brain.
Auditory (ear) Nerve
The nerve transmits audio signals through the ear to the brain.
Auditory (Hearing) System
The auditory pathway process the sound signal as it is transferred from the auditory canal to the brain. This means that the pathways in our brains are a part that hears.
There are four kinds of loss of hearing:
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Hearing loss is caused by something that blocks sound from reaching the middle or outer ear. Hearing loss is usually treated by surgery or medicine.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Hearing loss is a sign that there is a problem with how the inner ear, also known as the hearing nerve, functions.
- Mixed Hearing Loss
- Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder
- Hearing loss occurs when sound travels through the ear in a normal way, but due to damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve, sounds aren’t properly organized so that the brain is able to comprehend. For more details, visit this site: National Institute for Hearing and Deafness. External icon.
The degree of loss of hearing varies from minimal to severe:
- Mild Hearing Loss
- Someone with a hearing loss of a moderate degree might hear some speech sounds, but soft sounds are difficult to detect.
- Moderate Hearing Loss
- A person who has a moderate hearing loss could hear very little speech when a person is speaking at a normal pace.
- Severe Hearing Loss
- Someone with profound hearing loss can hear the sound of speech when a person speaks at a normal pace and hears only loud noises.
- Profound Hearing Loss
- A person who has a serious hearing loss is unable to hear any speech but will only very loud noises.
The term “hearing loss” can be defined as
- Unilateral or Bilateral
- Hearing loss occurs only in one ear (unilateral) or in both hearing loss is in both ears (bilateral).
- Pre-lingual or Post-lingual
- Hearing loss occurred before someone learned how to speak (pre-lingual) and also after someone learned to speak (post-lingual)
- Symmetrical or Asymmetrical
- Hearing loss is similar across the two ears (symmetrical) or differs for each one (asymmetrical).
- Progressive or Sudden
- Hearing loss can get worse over the course of time (progressive) or occurs fast (sudden).
- Fluctuating or Stable
- Hearing loss may get more or less severe as time passes (fluctuating) or remains the same throughout the course of time (stable).
- Congenital or Acquired/Delayed Onset
- Hearing loss can be present from the time of birth (congenital) or develops later in the course of life (acquired or delayed beginning).