Hearing loss can have several causes. While loud noises or old age are common causes of impaired hearing, which result from hearing disorders, there are also lesser known conditions which can cause problems. For some types of hearing loss, one of the endless combinations of hearing aids can improve hearing. Hearing loss is either conductive, sensorineural, mixed or a result of an auditory processing disorder.
An auditory processing disorder occurs when the brain is unable to process sounds in the usual way. Conductive hearing loss occurs when a problem in the outer or middle ear stops sound from passing properly into the inner ear. When sensorineural hearing loss occurs, the cochlea or the auditory nerve malfunctions or is damaged. It can’t send electrical information to the brain correctly. In fact, conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss occurring in the same person is known as mixed hearing loss.
Here are four hearing disorders you should know about
Tinnitus is a noise, which a patient hears even though it is not caused by any sound in the environment. Many people know it as a ringing sound in the ears. They may not know it is often accompanied by hearing loss. Tinnitus affects almost 36 million Americans. More than half of the population experiences it intermittently. About six percent of the population has a severe form. Tinnitus can cause a low roar or high-pitched ring. It may be present in both ears or in only one ear. Tinnitus is caused by exposure to loud noise or drugs, which are toxic to the inner ear.
Acoustic neuroma is a nonmalignant tumor of the eighth cranial nerve. It is a rare condition with less than a dozen new tumors being diagnosed per million people in the United States. This means about 2 000 to 3 000 new cases are discovered each year. The majority of patients experience one-sided hearing loss which progresses slowly. Two-thirds of them have difficulty hearing at a high frequency. The affected ear is usually affected by tinnitus. Acoustic neuroma can be sporadic or inherited. About 95 percent of cases are sporadic and the cause is unclear. Some studies link it to cellphone use or excessive exposure to loud noises. The inherited form is rare.
Otosclerosis is a disease, which affects the bones of the middle and inner ear. The bones become fused together and inflexible. It becomes difficult for them to transmit sound. If you have a parent with otosclerosis, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene. It is believed that a chronic measles infection in the bones can also predispose people to otosclerosis. Hearing loss associated with otosclerosis tends to start between the ages of 10 and 30. The hearing loss is conductive if it involved the bones in the middle of the ear. When it occurs in the bone surrounding the inner ear, it is a sensory type of hearing loss.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED)
Autoimmune inner ear disease is a rare Hearing Disorders condition, which accounts for less than one percent of all cases of hearing loss. The hearing loss is usually progressive. Antibodies attacking the inner ear cause it. Impaired hearing is usually accompanied by tinnitus over the course of a few months. AIED can also occur alongside dizziness. Allergies and autoimmune diseases like ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and scleroderma.
Hearing loss can be complicated. If you are struggling to keep up with conversation or hear in noisy environments, you should see a specialist for help.