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Types of Hearing Loss And Related Disorders

Conductive
Sensorineural
Mixed Loss
Auditory Processing Dysfunction
Auditory Neuropathy
Tinnitus

Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss can occur when there are abnormalities in the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss is usually medically treatable and occurs when something blocks or impedes sound waves from reaching the inner ear. Causes include wax, foreign objects, fluid, infection and osicle chain dysfunction.

Treatment:
Treatment for conductive hearing loss consists of the removal of the component causing the problem. Treatment should be prescribed by your attending physician.
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Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there are abnormalities in the inner ear or the auditory pathway to the brain. This type of hearing loss is permanent in nature. Causes include birth abnormalities, heredity factors, noise exposure, accidents, tumors or drug/medicine induced.

Treatment:
Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is dependent upon the degree of hearing loss, the age of onset and innately utilized coping strategies. These factors will affect the suggested recommendations for an individual dealing with this type of hearing loss. However, some general recommendations include the following:

  1. APPROPRIATE SEATING: When in a listening situation, position oneself so the better/stronger ear is closest to the speaker/presenter.
  2. REPETITION: Be sure to ask for repetition to clarify what is said. Parents and teachers of younger children will need to ask the child to repeat what is expected of them and, if need be, correct with exact repetition or by rephrasing.
  3. WATCH FACES: Watch faces to "see" to "hear." Teachers may need to allow the child to turn in their seats to watch whoever is speaking in the room.
  4. NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION: Non-verbal communication, reading a situation correctly, is important educationally and socially.
  5. AMPLIFICATION: Use amplification to make audible the impaired pitches and sounds to a comfortable listening level, if possible.
  6. EAR/HEARING ABILITY CONSERVATION: Conserving ear/hearing ability consists of utilizing ear muffs, ear plugs, etc., when one is exposed to noise. It also involves using common sense and removing one’s self from the noisy situation, if possible.
  7. ANNUAL EVALUATIONS: Annual evaluations to monitor for any further changes (threshold shifts).

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Mixed Loss
Mixed hearing loss consists of a combination of sensorineural (permanent) and conductive (medically treatable) hear loss. The compounding affects of this type of loss can be frustrating and severe.

Treatment:
Treatment for mixed hearing loss consists of medical intervention to eliminate the conductive component of the loss. Periodic monitoring should also be conducted to document the frequency of the hearing ability’s fluctuations.

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Auditory Processing Dysfunction
Auditory Processing Dysfunction refers to a deficit in the auditory pathways to and in the brain that can cause the inability to listen to or comprehend auditory information correctly even though a person may have normal hearing ability and intelligence.

Treatment:
Treatment for Auditory Processing Dysfunction would include a series of tests examining the auditory skills including being able to block out background noise, sequencing, repeating numbers, words, sentences, thinking skills, etc. Based upon the test results and depending on the areas of auditory strengths and weaknesses, strategies would then be recommended.

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Auditory Neuropathy
Auditory Neuropathy is a hearing disorder where sound enters the inner ear normally but the transmission from the inner ear to the brain breaks down. People with Auditory Neuropathy can have normal hearing or have a hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. One distinguishing factor is that they always have trouble understanding speech clearly.

Treatment:
Researchers are still looking for effective treatment for Auditory Neuropathy. However, while waiting for that "gold nugget" to be found, options include using sign language, hearing aids and cochlear implants or any combination of these options.

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Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be a bothersome hissing, ringing, roaring sound in the ears that can be progressive. Tinnitus may not always affect one’s hearing ability, but the ability to "hear."

Treatment:
Treatment for Tinnitus can be as simple as getting adequate sleep, reducing noise exposure or reducing caffeine intake. Research is continuing to reveal other possible causes and treatments.

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Questions? Comments? Please email Scott or Tracey.