Types of Hearing Loss
It is recommended that you have your hearing tested annually as a matter of maintaining your health. The type of treatment recommended for hearing loss depends on the type of hearing loss a patient has. The two most common types of hearing loss are Conductive and Sensorineural.
The external and the middle ear conduct and transform sound; the inner ear receives it. When there is a problem in the external or middle ear, a conductive hearing impairment occurs. When the problem is in the inner ear, a sensorineural or hair cell loss is the result. Difficulty in both the middle and inner ear results in a mixed hearing impairment and central hearing loss has more to do with the brain than the ear.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the ear canal, eardrum, or tiny bones of the middle ear, resulting in a reduction of the loudness of sound. This type of hearing loss can be as simple as wax buildup in the ears, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstructions in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum membrane, or disease of middle ear bones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural Hearing Loss, also referred to as ‘cochlear loss’, is the most common type of hearing loss and is present in over 90% of patients with hearing aids. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are age related and noise exposure but it can also be a result of disturbance of inner ear circulation, increased inner fluid pressure or disturbances of nerve transmission. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is an inner ear hearing loss, is also called ‘nerve loss’.
Central hearing impairment occurs when auditory centers of the brain are affected by injury, disease, tumor, hereditary, or unknown causes. Loudness of sound is not necessarily affected, although understanding speech may be affected.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Common cause of hearing loss, especially in the younger generations, is noise exposure. Industrial workplaces, gunfire, loud music, and everyday sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent loss of hearing.
According to the National Institute of Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control (NIOSH/CDC) and Prevention, the following are examples of noises that can damage your hearing.
- 85 dB Hair Dryer, Coffee Grinder, City traffic
- 88 dB Bulldozer
- 92 dB Food Processor
- 94 dB Lawn Mower
- 98 dB Night Club
- 100 dB Motor Cycle
- 106 dB Sporting Event
- 110 dB Rock Concert
- 135 dB Jet from 100 feet
- 145 dB Gun Shot
- 146 dB Firecracker
- 169 dB Automobile Airbag
Custom Ear Protection is recommended for occupational noise as well recreational activities such as hunting, sporting events and concerts. Some of the more common recommendations for custom ear molds are for the following hearing environments:
According to NIOSH, approximately 22 million U.S workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, causing an estimated $242 million in worker’s compensation claims due to hearing loss disability. As a result, NIOSH recommends a hearing loss prevention program that includes the use of hearing protection devices, periodic hearing tests and education for workers along with administrative controls that include accurate records keeping, evaluations and audits.
Recreational Shooting and Hunting Hearing Protection
It is estimated that 50% of all recreational shooters suffer some degree of hearing loss. It is generally thought that this activity can be harmful to hearing over prolonged exposure. Most gunfire exceeds 130 decibels and requires reliable, quality hunting ear protection. Using ear protection can prevent needless and permanent hearing loss. Electronic earplugs enhance the sounds around you. For example, you can hear game movement but also reduce impulse sounds such as gunfire, down to a safe level. This helps prevent damage to your hearing. Hunting requires one to have the ability to hear very soft sounds, while still protecting the ear from the peak noise levels of a 165 dB shot gun blast. Flatirons Audiology offers many options for hearing protection for hunters, including protection devices that offer amplification while reducing the sound of gunfire to a safe level.
Musician Hearing Protection
Professional musicians work in a high decibel environment in which hearing loss, tinnitus and hypersensitivity to sounds and sound distortion can result.
Traditional earplugs will not work for the professional musician, as they reduce sound by muffling low to mid-range frequencies. Special musicians ear molds are available at Flatirons Audiology that can protect the musician’s ears from loud sounds without distorting what they hear. Many of these devices will even enhance the music experience.
Law Enforcement and Military Hearing Protection
If you are involved in law enforcement or the military, you know how important your sense of hearing is to being safe and effective on the job. You may have experienced a situation where firing your weapon has temporarily reduced your ability to hear. There could be a situation in which your partner or a member of your team is forced to fire their weapon in close proximity or in a confined area. The potential damage to your hearing could be severe, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.
Industrial Hearing Protection
Loud, constant sounds all day long at work can cause long-term hearing problems. Loud, sudden noises (gunfire, industrial noises, woodworking, motorcycles, loud music, motorized lawn equipment, hobbies with noise over 90 dB) are more damaging to hearing. Flatirons Audiology can properly fit earplugs than can significantly reduce loud noises and prevent hearing damage and loss. Hearing protection that is not properly fitted to the wearer’s ears will not effectively prevent damaging noises from penetrating the ear canal.
Quick and Easy Appointment
All of these types of hearing protection are available at Flatirons Audiology. Simply call for an appointment and we will help you identify the type of hearing protection most appropriate for you, take your ear impressions, place the order and call you when they are ready for pickup. Protecting your hearing is as easy as that!