What is Hearing Loss?
With children, it is especially important to diagnose and treat a hearing loss as early as possible because of its effect on development and learning. Hearing loss can also greatly affect the quality of life for adult. Unmanaged hearing loss has an impact on education, employment, and general well-being.
The three basic types of hearing loss are called conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not easily sent through the ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones inside the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss makes sounds softer and less easy to hear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathways in the brain. A majority of the time sensorineural hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss occurs when a conductive hearing loss happens in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss.
Degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the hearing loss. The levels of hearing loss are generally classified as mild, moderate, severe or profound. Hearing loss that borders between two categories is typically described as a combination of the two categories (for example, moderate-to-severe).
The configuration, or shape, of the hearing loss refers to the degree and pattern of hearing loss across frequencies (tones), During testing, the Audiologist illustrates this in a graph called an audiogram. For example, a hearing loss that only affects the high tones would be described as a high frequency loss. Its configuration would show good hearing in the low tones and poor hearing in the high tones. On the other hand, if only the low frequencies were affected, the configuration would show poorer hearing for the low toned sounds and better hearing for high tones.