Meet With Our Experienced Physicians & Audiologists to Discuss Hearing Loss Treatments & Hearing Aid Devices in the Boynton Beach Area.
When your hearing starts to decline, it can be a difficult experience. Confusion and fear are not uncommon. There are two main kinds of hearing loss with different causes and treatments.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Sound waves travel through the air by the use of the outer, middle, and then inner ears, enabling us to hear. Conductive hearing loss occurs when conditions block sound from transmitting through the outer or middle ear.
Locations, we are serving for:
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing Loss
- Sudden Hearing Loss(Deafness)
When the transmissions of sound are hindered, they reach the cochlea (located in the inner ear) at a much lower intensity. This makes sounds harder to recognize and distinguish.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
There are many possible causes of conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss can be difficult to predict because it can occur at any age and its onset can occur at any rate.
Among the most common causes of conductive hearing loss are the following conditions:
- Otitis media – the inflammation of the middle ear, generally resulting from fluid buildup
- Otosclerosis – the calcification of the bones located in the middle ear
- Cholesteotoma – a growth located on epithelium, usually caused by repeated infection
- A tear in the tympanic membrane caused by injury, infection, or blockage
Treatment for Conductive Hearing Loss
Depending on the seriousness of your hearing loss, medical treatment can improve and recover conductive hearing loss for most individuals. Medication or surgery often ceases or lessens hearing loss.
In some cases, hearing can even be restored completely.
If medication or surgery are not effective, hearing devices are a wonderful option and include many technological features.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs from the inside. Commonly referred to as “nerve deafness,” individuals begin to lose their hearing when the hearing nerve in the inner ear becomes damaged. More common than conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent.
The experience for individuals is typically gradual. Patients do not often recognize that their hearing is worse for years. Both clarity and intensity may begin to diminish. Eventually, individuals are likely to complain that loud sounds and background noise become particularly troublesome.
*Sensorineural hearing loss is also called Presbyacusis.
What is sensorineural hearing loss?
Everybody loses these tiny hair cells in the cochlea throughout life, while the hearing gradually becomes less acute.
However, the hair cells can also be damaged by excessive noise. As a result of prolonged exposure to high intensity noise either from the work environment or from listening to loud music, sensorineural hearing impairment is becoming more common.
You can also suffer from sensorineural hearing loss having been exposed to diseases such as mumps, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, ménières disease or if you have used certain drugs, in particular aspirin, cisplatin, quinine or the antibiotics streptomycin and gentamicin.
Sensorineural hearing impairment may also occur if your mother has had rubella (German measles) during pregnancy, or if your birth weight was low.
Sensorineural hearing loss can be inherited and finally you may lose your hearing ability due to head/ear injuries.
Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by a number of things, including:
- Birth defects
- Repeated infections
- Meniere’s Disease
- Ototoxic medication
- Presbycusis (caused by aging)
Exposure to loud noises is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Concerts, machinery, explosions, and other loud noises can seriously damage the inner ear. Hearing protection can help prevent this damage.
Treatment for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The only way to treat sensorineural hearing loss is by sound amplification. Devices like hearing aids can amplify sound and thereby improve hearing.
Mixed Hearing Loss
From time to time, both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss can occur at the same time. When this happens there are complications in both the inner and outer ears. Physicians refer to this as “mixed hearing loss.”
Sudden Hearing Loss (Deafness)
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL), or sudden deafness, is a rapid loss of hearing. SSHL can happen unexpectedly at once or over a period of up to 3 days. An ENT can determine whether a person has experienced SSHL by conducting a hearing test. Treatment for sudden hearing loss is urgent. A delay in management of this reduces the chances for recovering hearing.
Hearing loss affects only one ear in 9 out of 10 people experiencing SSHL. Signs that SSHL has occurred include:
- Waking up in the morning with abnormal hearing
- Trying to use the deafened ear, such as when making a phone call
- A loud, alarming “pop” just before hearing disappears
- Dizziness or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus), or both
A “spontaneous recovery” can occur for some patients. This means recovering completely without medical intervention. Others improve slowly over a 1 to 2 week period. 20 percent of people with SSHL experience a hearing loss that may not improve and may worsen over time.
Although multiple causes of sudden deafness exist, it is rare for a specific one to be precisely identified. Only 10 to 12 percent of patients with SSHL know what caused their hearing loss. Typically, a diagnosis is based on the patients’ medical history and specialized testing of inner ear function. It is believed that the most common cause is an inflammatory process affecting the inner ear due to a viral infection. Other possible causes include: trauma, abnormal tissue growth, immunological abnormalities, circulatory problems, and neurological causes.
Steroids are typically used to treat SSHL, especially in cases with an unknown cause. They work to reduce inflammation, decrease swelling, and help the body fight off illness. Steroid treatment may assist SSHL patients who also have conditions that affect the immune system. Dr. Light can perform direct steroid perfusion to the inner ear for patients that cannot take oral steroids due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or other existing medical conditions. This may also be recommended if oral steroids fail to completely restore hearing.
Suffering from Hearing Loss?
If you have noticed that sounds are not as loud or as clear as they used to be, you may be suffering from hearing loss. Contact our office now to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians. They can diagnose your hearing loss and recommend possible treatments.
We help patients from Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach to Lantana, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach with hearing loss problems. Contact us to learn more.