February 26, 2021

What is conductive hearing loss?

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Living with any type of hearing impairment causes many life challenges and questions. It’s natural to wonder what causes conductive hearing loss, whether conductive hearing loss can be reversed, or whether conductive hearing loss can be cured. This article examines conductive hearing loss in detail, taking a look into the ear’s anatomy and then exploring conductive hearing loss’s causes, symptoms, treatments, and how it can impact one’s life.

According to the WHO, around 466 million people suffer from hearing loss worldwide, and it can develop at any stage of life. Luckily, there have been significant advances in the field, so patients have access to a wide variety of treatments. But there are different forms of hearing loss, and if you or someone you know has hearing loss, you must understand what separates each type to overcome the pain and stress caused by these disorders.

A Closer Look at the Ear’s Anatomy

Three main parts comprise the human ear: the inner, middle, and outer ear. The outer ear breaks down into three pieces: the pinna is the visible part of your ear, and it contains your ear lobes. The other two portions of the outer ear are the ear canal and the eardrum.

The eardrum separates the outer and middle ear from each other and is also known as the tympanic membrane (TM). Travel farther into the middle ear, and you’ll find ossicles, tiny bones that send vibrations to the inner ear. The inner ear also has three parts, the cochlea, semicircular canals that control balance, and nerves connected to the brain.

Conductive Hearing Loss Causes

Conductive hearing loss differs from sensorineural hearing loss in that sensorineural hearing loss stems from the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss stems from the ear’s inability to direct or conduct sound from the outer or middle ear to the inner ear.

Different factors that cause conductive hearing loss:

  • Accumulating fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies that can result in hyperacusis.
  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Earwax or cerumen stuck in your ear canal.
  • External otitis, an ear canal infection, otherwise known as “swimmer’s ear.”
  • An object blocking your outer ear

Many conductive hearing loss causes emanating from the middle ear are less straightforward than those that originate from the outer ear. For example, Irregularities in how the middle ear formed can cause conductive hearing loss. Some people also have conductive hearing loss issues from how the bones in their middle ear formed or a deformed middle ear.

Another common cause of conductive hearing loss is fluid that builds up in the middle ear. Generally filled with air, the middle ear can become inflamed and irritated. This irritation is caused by an infection known as acute otitis media or a non-infectious condition called serous otitis. Both conditions typically affect children more than adults.

Chronic otitis causes prolonged discharge that affects the hearing, damages the ossicles, or collapses the eardrum. A tear in the eardrum due to trauma, infection, or severe damage to the eustachian tubes can also cause conductive hearing loss. The severity of the hearing loss usually coincides with the severity of the damage to the eardrum.

Otosclerosis is a rare, inherited disease that occurs when the stirrup bone in the middle ear fuses with other middle ear bones. This fusion prohibits the correct vibration of the bones and impedes patients’ hearing.

Conductive Hearing Loss Symptoms

Conductive hearing loss symptoms often depend on the severity of the hearing loss. Still, the most common symptoms are muffled hearing, a “stuffy” feeling in your head, dizziness, pain in your head, and a sudden or steady hearing (hyperacusis). Though sensorineural hearing loss most often causes tinnitus, blockage in the middle or outer ear can also cause tinnitus.

Hearing Loss Severity-

Conductive hearing loss is measured on a scale from mild to profound. Most conductive hearing loss cases are mild, meaning patients may have difficulties hearing people who speak softly or young children. But those who have moderately severe to profound conductive hearing loss will not be able to hear conversations, and in some serious cases, even very loud sounds without a hearing aid.

Conductive Hearing Loss Treatment

If you or someone you know has conductive hearing loss, the first step is to schedule an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist. ENT specialists can accurately diagnose your condition and discuss potential treatment options with you. The diagnosis procedure generally consists of a hearing test known as an audiogram administered by an audiologist.

Finding an experienced audiologist who gives patients the right treatment options is imperative for treatment and recovery. The audiogram determines whether your hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural, and depending on the diagnosis; you will have to undergo further testing that defines your best treatment options.

Treatment options range from ongoing evaluation to hearing aids or surgery for hearing device implants.

Some conditions are more likely to require surgery, such as cholesteatoma, a benign tumor or cyst trapped behind the eardrum, or bone behind the ear. A tear in the eardrum is another example of a conductive hearing loss cause that likely requires surgery.

Conductive Hearing Loss Impact

Conductive hearing loss can take its toll on patients in different ways. Understanding how this condition affects one’s life is a crucial part of treatment and recovery.

First and foremost, hearing loss affects patients’ ability to communicate with others easily. Because of this, children who have conductive hearing loss often have difficulties performing in academics. Children are more likely to struggle with their academics if conductive hearing loss goes undiagnosed.

The WHO found that unaddressed hearing loss costs the globe 750$ billion per year. These costs include productivity losses, health care costs (hearing devices not included), and educational resources.

Because the most common developmental disability to occur with hearing loss is an intellectual disability (23%), parents must get their children tested at the appropriate age. Early detection helps children get the assistance they need to succeed in school.

Why Partnering With the Right Audiologist at the Right Center Is Crucial

Only 30 percent of people over the age of 70 who could benefit from a hearing aid have ever used one. This statistic demonstrates the importance of finding a trusted audiologist. Audiologists need extensive education to respond to hearing loss patients and recommend the best treatment options. The administering of a proper hearing test determines whether the patient has an accurate diagnosis and can begin recovery.

Find Out Your Available Treatments Today

Conductive hearing loss is a common affliction that affects many people without them knowing how to respond. If you have conductive hearing loss, don’t wait to get treatment. Contact Sound Relief Hearing Center today to schedule an appointment.

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