Simply put, hearing loss is a reduced ability to hear some – or all – types of sounds. Hearing loss can create difficulty understanding or discriminating speech, and create problems understanding sounds in different listening environments. Hearing loss can occur gradually over time and it often goes unnoticed. Any hearing loss that occurs suddenly should always be immediately evaluated by a physician.
If you or someone you love thinks they might be experiencing hearing loss, Omni Hearing suggests completing our online hearing test. You can also schedule a free hearing test at any of our locations.
Omni Hearing’s mission is to help people facing challenges associated with all types of hearing loss.
TYPES OF SOUNDS
Sound is typically categorized as being either high frequency or low frequency. Sounds can also be loud or soft depending on their intensity and your proximity to the sound source.
COMMON TYPES OF LOUD SOUNDS:
Common sounds that would typically be classified as loud include: fireworks, jet engines and sirens.
COMMON TYPES OF SOFT SOUNDS:
Common sounds that would typically be classified as soft include: birds singing gently, someone whispering in your ear and a gentle breeze.
COMMON TYPES OF HIGH FREQUENCY SOUNDS:
A high frequency sound simply means that the sound’s wave pattern is periodically short. Sounds typically classified as being high frequency include: children’s voices, female voices, the notes on the far right of a piano, high treble music, and certain consonants found in the English language (ex. t, f, k, h, and s).
COMMON TYPES OF LOW FREQUENCY SOUNDS:
A low frequency sound simply means that the sound’s wave pattern is periodically long. Sounds typically classified as being low frequency include: deep bass in music, men’s voices, notes on the far left of a piano, rumbling thunder and the vowels found in the English language (ex. a, e, i, o, and u).
THE HUMAN IMPACT OF HEARING LOSS
Living with hearing loss can be very challenging. Studies have shown that people suffering with hearing loss often experience social, mental, emotional and physical difficulties. Hearing loss has even been shown to create potential financial consequences. Hearing loss can be especially difficult for active professionals, children and elderly people.
HEARING LOSS SHOULD NEVER BE LEFT UNTREATED OR IGNORED!
Left untreated, hearing loss has been shown to lead to dementia, depression, lowered levels of self-confidence, lowered productivity, memory problems, social isolation and a reduced ability to function normally in everyday life.
Hearing loss is also a safety concern and it increases your chances of suffering an accident – especially in urban environments!
DIFFERENT TYPES OF HEARING LOSS:
CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS
Conductive hearing loss means that sounds are not being processed by the outer or middle ear properly. Anyone diagnosed with conductive hearing loss should be evaluated by a physician. There are some medical and surgical corrective measures than can be applied to help deal with this type of hearing loss.
CAUSES OF CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS:
A multitude of factors can contribute to conductive hearing loss, including: benign tumours, dislocated osscicles, infections of the ear (i.e. otitis media, otitis externa), a buildup of fluid/wax and other obstructions of the ear canal, deformities in the outer or middle ear, and problems with the Eustachian tube.
Sometimes, conductive hearing loss can be caused by everyday issues like pregnancy, swimmer’s ear, and seasonal colds and allergies. Omni Hearing’s trained experts will help provide you with the best course of action if we suspect you may be suffering from conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of serious hearing loss. Here, problems develop with the nerves found inside the inner ear. Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent. It can also result in difficulties understanding and discerning speech.
CAUSES OF SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS:
A number of factors can contribute to sensorineural hearing loss, including: acoustic traumas, age and problems created by pressure (i.e. barotrauma associated with scuba diving).
Sometimes sensorineural hearing loss results from simple genetics. It can also be caused by deformations in the inner ear and certain ototoxic drugs. Omni Hearing’s trained experts will help provide you with the best course of action if we suspect you may be suffering from sensorineural hearing loss.
MIXED HEARING LOSS
Mixed hearing loss involves a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. In this case, both the inner and middle ear are involved.
It is important to remember that the conductive component of mixed hearing loss can potentially be treated medically or surgically. Omni Hearing’s trained experts will help provide you with the best course of action if we suspect you may be suffering from mixed hearing loss.
DEGREES OF HEARING LOSS
Once hearing loss has been detected, the next step should be to determine the exact extent of the problem. The degree of hearing loss someone experiences is typically described as being mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe or profound. These descriptions are based on the amount/type of hearing impairment. They are typically interpreted through the use of an audiogram.
DESCRIBING AND REPRESENTING HEARING LOSS
HEARING LOSS IS TYPICALLY REPRESENTED ON AN AUDIOGRAM AS BEING:
Cookie bite shaped – higher on both ends and lower in the middle
Flat – similar hearing loss at all frequencies (common in conductive hearing loss)
Notch loss – typically beginning at 4000Hz, caused by the onset of a noise-induced hearing loss
Precipitous ski-slope – sharp drop off in hearing at a specific frequency
Reverse cookie bite – lower on both ends and higher in the middle
Reverse-slope – little-to-no hearing loss at the higher frequencies
Ski-slope – most common shape of hearing loss (little-to-no hearing loss at the lower frequencies).