What is Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in one's ability to hear. Depending on the cause, it can range from mild to severe and can be temporary, permanent. Hearing loss is categorized by where or what part of the auditory system is damaged. There are three basic types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can often be treated medically or surgically. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or cochlea or to the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically corrected. It is typically a permanent loss, but one can almost always benefit from the use of hearing aids. Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be bilateral (in both ears) or unilateral (in one ear). It can occur in babies, which is known as a congenital hearing loss, children or adults. The most common causes of hearing loss in adults is due to noise exposure or the aging process (presbycusis).

 Do I have hearing loss?