American Hearing + Audiology
People experience hearing loss for a wide variety of reasons. For some, it may be difficult to hear or understand speech. Others may complain of a ringing or buzzing in the ears which is known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is usually a manifestation of hearing loss, although it may have other causes as well. The causes of hearing loss vary. Some hearing loss can be attributed to: earwax blockage that prevents sound wave conduction; ear infections and abnormal bone growths; tumors of the outer or middle ear; ruptured eardrum.
In most cases, however, hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear. Aging and prolonged exposure to loud noise may cause wear and tear on inner ear hairs or nerve cells that send sound signals to the brain. When these hairs or nerve cells are damaged or missing, electrical signals aren’t transmitted as efficiently, and hearing loss results. Higher pitched tones may become muffled. It may become difficult for you to pick out words against background noise. Heredity or cardiovascular issues may make you more prone to these changes.
Types of Hearing Loss
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It occurs when the tiny hair cells of the inner ear are damaged. Even though sound gets in to the inner ear normally, the damaged hair cells are unable to “sense” and subsequently send the required signals to the brain. As a result, these damaged hair cells send a distorted message to the brain, making it difficult to hear and understand. Fortunately, this type of loss is effectively treated through the use of hearing aids.
Noise induced hearing loss is a frequent form of sensorineural loss. Prolonged exposure to loud noise damages the tiny hair cells that transmit sound to the brain for interpretation. This loss is not reversible, but fortunately very preventible through hearing protection and avoidance of dangerous sound levels.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a breakdown in the bio-mechanical transmission of sound to the brain. This is typically the result of a problem with the outer and/or middle ear.
Mixed Hearing Loss
It is possible for multiple factors to impact your hearing. Mixed hearing loss occurs when both Conductive and Sensorineural hearing loss are present. The treatment of mixed hearing loss depends on the specific factors responsible for it. We can help you determine the best course of action to treat mixed hearing loss.
Tinnitus is the perception of on-going, repetitive ringing or buzzing in the ear. Some sufferers describe it as whistling, chirping, buzzing, pulsing, clicking, as well as ringing in the ears. One or both ears may be affected. The noise may be internal, heard only by its victim; or it may be external, heard by others as well. Some people live with it, aware of its presence but undeterred by it. For others, the sound they hear can be an on-going nuisance which they live with, constantly bothered by it but leaving it untreated. For still others, the sounds may be so bothersome that they are debilitating, interfering with work and sleep.
While the cause of tinnitus is unknown and there is no known cure, there is hope for people that struggle with frequent ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is frequently a symptom of an underlying hearing loss. We effectively manage tinnitus with hearing aids that have sound masking technology. The end result is improved hearing, decreased audio irritants and improved quality of life.