Hearing loss

Hearing loss can affect how you communicate, access information and get around. It can come on gradually as you get older, or as a result of an illness or specific condition.

Here is a brief explanation about the causes and types of hearing loss, and the effect it can have.

If you have concerns about your hearing, you should visit your GP or audiologist.

What causes hearing loss?

There are many different reasons why you might experience hearing loss.

It could be something you are born with (congenital loss) or that has happened as a result of a condition, illness or accident (acquired loss). It may be temporary or permanent, and be in one or both ears.

Types of hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells and/or the auditory nerve in the ear.

It can be congenital or acquired, and causes include ageing, illness, exposure to loud sounds, prematurity and as part of a syndrome.

Sensorineural hearing loss varies from person to person.

People with sensorineural hearing loss may benefit from hearing aids, and in some cases cochlear implants. Training in communication tactics, lipreading classes and assistive listening devices may also help.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is when sounds do not pass from your outer to inner ear. This can be due to a blockage, or due to a problem with the eardrum or bones in the ear.

Some conductive hearing losses are permanent, whereas others can be treated or there are surgical options available.

Depending on the cause, type and severity of the hearing loss, people with conductive hearing loss may benefit from hearing aids or a bone anchored hearing instrument. You may also benefit from communication tactic training, lipreading classes and assistive listening devices.

Mixed hearing loss

A mixed hearing loss has both sensorineural and conductive elements.

Depending on the cause, type and severity of the hearing loss, people with mixed hearing loss may benefit from hearing aids, bone anchored hearing instruments, training in communication tactics, lipreading classes and assistive listening devices.

The effect of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be challenging, but, with the right support, you can live a full, connected and meaningful life.

Hearing loss impacts on your ability to hear certain sound frequencies, as well as the quality of the sound being heard. It might be that you can hear things, but that they don't sound as clear as they used to, or that you find it harder to hear when there's lots of background noise.

Everyday life may be affected, from communicating with other people and listening in social situations to difficulties with tasks such as watching television or listening to the radio.

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