When many people think of hearing loss, the severity of the loss we think of may vary wildly. As we draw on our personal experiences, we may think, for example, of a grandparent who wore a hearing aid. Maybe you think of a famous person like Helen Keller or a contestant you saw on a reality talent show.
Like your thoughts, though, the types of hearing loss can vary wildly. Hearing loss can be divided into degrees of severity, for one thing. It can be mild, where someone can hear most conversations, but may have trouble when there’s a lot of background noise. It can then vary in severity all the way to profound hearing loss, where a person can hear loud sounds but otherwise needs a hearing aid for normal volumes.
There are also different types of hearing loss, categorized by their causes. For instance, one type of hearing difficulty is caused by auditory processing disorder, which is basically what it sounds like. A person has trouble processing the sounds they hear. It may take them a moment then to process and understand what someone is saying.
Other types of hearing loss are caused by damage to or dysfunction in the auditory parts. For example, if someone’s auditory nerve is damaged, this can result in what’s called sensorineural hearing loss. Auditory nerve damage of this type can be inherited, or it can be developed, due to things like disease or injury. This kind of damage is usually permanent.
A similar type of hearing loss is conductive hearing loss. This is a hearing loss that results from sound being unable to travel from the outside to the inner ear. This can be caused by injury, abnormal bone growth, or even too much earwax. This dysfunction can be permanent or temporary.
Sometimes, though, people have both of the previous two types of hearing loss. In this case, the fourth and final type of hearing loss, the loss is categorized as mixed hearing loss.