Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is defined as having both conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss at the same time and in the same ear or ears. Mixed hearing loss occurs when an individual’s outer or middle ear’s ability to transmit sound properly to the inner ear is diminished. Additionally, the individual’s cochlea, auditory nerve or other inner ear structures that are responsible for interpreting sound and relaying it to the brain exhibit some degree of dysfunction. The impact and degree of mixed hearing loss can range from mild to severe, and the causes of mixed hearing loss are as numerous and diverse as the separate causes of sensorineural and conductive loss.
Example 1: A person who frequently attends loud concerts and subsequently develops noise-induced hearing loss also develops an ear infection later that year. Example 2: A person who experiences natural, age-related hearing loss also has a perforated eardrum caused by direct trauma. Both people exemplify mixed hearing loss – or a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
How Does Mixed Hearing Loss Influence Hearing?
Depending on whether an individual has mixed hearing loss in 1 ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral), they can experience a range of hearing impairment, from slight to profound. If the individual has mostly conductive hearing loss, it may be difficult for them to understand speech and pick up sounds if they’re softer in volume or if there are competing background noises. If the individual has mostly sensorineural hearing loss, speech and other sounds may seem to become distorted, so even if they’re presented at a loud enough volume, the individual may still struggle to decipher and understand them.
How Is Mixed Hearing Loss Treated?
Since most types of conductive hearing loss are treatable, an ENT specialist will generally treat the conductive component first. After the conductive hearing loss has been treated, the sensorineural hearing loss is usually addressed. Because SNHL (sensorineural hearing loss) is often permanent and irreversible the use of hearing aids is usually the nest course of action. In more severe instances, when hearing aids are insufficient, cochlear implants, direct bone conduction systems and other hearing instruments may be alternate treatment options.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Mixed Hearing Loss?
If you or someone you love is experiencing hearing loss or other hearing-related symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a licensed specialist who can properly evaluate you and identify if any hearing loss is present, and if so, which type of hearing loss it is. Find an Avada Hearing Care Center near you today.