Adult Hearing Services
Hearing loss is identified by its type and degree. Types of hearing loss are classified based on the part of the ear that’s damaged or where your hearing loss occurred. The degree of hearing loss is determined by its severity. When you visit Heuser Hearing Clinic for hearing testing, we will determine if you have a hearing loss and explain your treatment options.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is an interference with the transfer of sound through the outer or middle part of the ear. Possible cause of conductive hearing loss include ear wax, ear infection, a collapsed ear canal, damage to the bones of the middle ear, and more. Conductive hearing losses are typically treated medically or surgically. In the case that these treatments prove unsuccessful, conductive hearing loss can be treated with amplification including different types of hearing aids. Because conductive hearing loss is rarely permanent, attention is focused upon its temporary effects on speech and language development and academic or professional performance.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is by far the most common type and is caused by a problem in the inner ear or auditory nerves. Possible causes include abnormal inner ear development, injury from medicine or disease, tumors, physical injury to the inner ear, and more. Sensorineural hearing losses are permanent and are treatment with amplification including hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing aids, personal amplification devices, or other technologies depending upon the severity of the loss. Once a sensorineural hearing loss is diagnosed, the treatment plan focuses on language development and communication needs after a treatment plan is established.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is typically considered a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, though it may also be considered sensory or neural. Combination hearing losses may be treated medically, surgically, and/or with amplification. Neural or central losses are rare, and management may include many combinations of medical, audiological, and therapeutic care.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Hearing losses are identified as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. The degree of the hearing loss identifies the level at which the person can hear.
Mild Hearing Loss
People with mild hearing losses have hearing in the 20–40 decibel (dB) range. The most common causes of mild hearing losses in children are middle ear fluid and/or infections, causing temporary conductive hearing loss. Those with mild hearing loss have difficulty hearing soft or distant speech but typically have normal speech and language development. Mild hearing losses may or may not require intervention depending upon whether it’s chronic or acute, its severity, and the patient’s lifestyle needs. For example, an adult with more limited social activities may not require assistance, but a child in a classroom will. Children’s hearing should be 15 dB or better to function easily in a classroom.
Moderate Hearing Loss
People with moderate hearing loss have hearing in the 40–60 dB range. They will have difficulty hearing soft speech in one-on-one conversations and difficulty hearing in situations with background noise. Moderate hearing loss requires treatment, typically using hearing aids, as well as educational services in the case of children.
Severe Hearing Loss
People with severe hearing losses can hear sounds in the 60–80 dB range. They can only hear sounds less than one foot away from their ears or very loud environmental sounds. Intervention services are a necessity for communication with others and language development. Intervention may include sign language, educational services, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and classroom modifications.
Profound Hearing Loss
People with profound hearing loss may be able to hear sounds above 80 dB. They can’t hear conversational speech, though they may be aware of sound vibrations. People with profound hearing losses are considered deaf, and intervention is a necessity. Intervention may include sign language, educational services, hearing aids, or cochlear implants.