Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss for those individuals experiencing difficulty hearing.
Sensorineural hearing loss is determined with two tests. These two tests are called Air Conduction and Bone Conduction. Air conduction testing is what we typically consider when we think about having a hearing test. Air conduction testing is when the Audiologist puts the headphones either over your ear (like typical headphones) or with insert eartips, like little sponge material that are down in your ear canal. Either way will come up with the same air conduction testing results. It depends which type of transducer your Audiologist is using.
The Audiologist will test a range of frequencies from low pitched tones to high pitched tones and determine, for each frequency, at what level do you hear each of these pitches.
Once the Air Conduction testing is completed, the Audiologist will put a device behind your ear that is called a Bone Conductor. This device will vibrate your skull and allow you to hear the same low to high pitched tones. The Audiologist will then compare how you responded with the Air Conduction device to the Bone Conduction device.
If you have a sensorineural hearing loss, the way you hear with both the Air and Bone Conduction devices will be the same. When this is the case, that means the hearing loss (when one is found) is due to nerve damage wherein there is no surgical or medical intervention that will correct your hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors. But, if you experience sudden hearing loss, it is important to be seen as soon as possible by your primary physician, an Ear Nose Throat physician or an Audiologist. The reason for this need to be seen immediately is that there are certain sudden hearing losses that can be reversed if you are seen and diagnosed with a sudden hearing loss.
If you bypass a very important 48-72 hours, it is possible that your hearing loss can not be reversed. The only way to know is to go to see your Audiologist as soon as possible where a hearing test can be performed and necessary referrals can be made.
Other reasons that can cause sudden hearing loss are: wax occlusion, perforated tympanic membranes, ear infections, noise exposure and injury to the ear such as hitting your head/ear. The best way to determine what you need is to see your audiology professional, such as Dr. Mendoza at Optimum Audiology.
In some families, hearing loss is a trait or a gene that is passed down in the chromosomes. It is usually known by the family when a genetic link to hearing loss or deafness is in their family genetic line. However, it is also found that some children are born with genetic hearing loss to two hearing parents with no known genetic link to hearing loss.
The great thing about the United States is they perform a newborn hearing screening on all babies born in the hospital. This screening is non-invasive and provides a way for the family to be referred for more extensive testing if the baby fails the hearing screening. If your baby fails a hearing screening, they will be referred to a local clinic for more extensive testing. If the baby is found to have hearing loss, they will be referred for hearing aids with the intention to fit the baby with some form of amplification before the age of 6 months in order to maximize their exposure to spoken words.
Congenital hearing loss is hearing loss that is found at birth. It is related to a genetic condition in about 50% of the cases.
The other 50% of the cases of congenital hearing loss are not hereditary in nature include prenatal infections, illnesses, toxins consumed by the mother during pregnancy or other conditions occurring at the time of birth or shortly thereafter. These conditions typically cause sensorineural hearing loss ranging from mild to profound in degree. Some known conditions are measles, mumps, and rubella.
Presbycusis is a terminology that signifies hearing loss due to aging. This is the most common form of sensorineural hearing loss. The use of the ear over many years causes the hair cells in the cochlea to be less reactive to sound due to use of the hair cells over and over. It is like a tire that slowly loses its tread over the use of the tire. The hair cells become damaged from day to day use, noise exposure, genetics, and external effects like medication. Presbycusis most often results in sensorineural hearing loss that can be corrected with hearing aids.
Noise exposure accounts for hearing loss in ages below the age of 65 years. When you are constantly and consistently exposed to loud noise, it puts a lot of pressure on the auditory system. This noise exposure can be found in the form of occupational noise, military noise, recreational noise and your genetic predisposition to be affected by noise.
Occupational noise was more pronounced before the mandatory use of hearing protection. In today’s workplace, the workplace must provide hearing protection, yearly hearing screenings, and limited time in extreme noise conditions. Failure to provide resources for the person working in an occupational noise environment is increased risk of hearing loss at an early age.
This is also true of military noise exposure. Those bases that have more constant noise exposure from military maneuvers, deployments and ongoing training with guns and loud equipment, can result in increased risk of noise exposure unless hearing protection is provided and worn by the individual.
Recreational noise exposure can come from shooting guns, being around loud recreational vehicles such as power boats, power tools, compression tools, construction tools, and etc. The individual who is exposed to loud noise, especially for extended time frames, needs to be proactive and use hearing protection.
Dr. Mendoza specializes in noise reduction products. These include, but are not limited by, custom hearing protection, active and passive noise reduction systems, and Peltors. If you are in need of noise reduction systems, please contact Optimum Audiology. We suggest regular hearing health check-ups, especially for individuals who are constantly exposed to loud noises (industrial, recreational, etc.)
Sudden deafness is diagnosed with a hearing test that is performed by your local Audiologist. They will perform Air and Bone Conduction, speech testing, a thorough case history and specialized testing called tympanometry, acoustic reflex testing and acoustic reflex decay. Each of these tests provides a window into how your auditory system is working and the possible causes and/or reasons for the sudden hearing loss. If sudden hearing loss is found then the Audiologist will refer you to an Ear Nose Throat Specialist and your Primary Physician for further testing which could include an MRI.
A case history is obtained from you with specific questions and symptomatology that relate to hearing loss, your ears, and your past medical history. A case history will focus on associated symptoms like ear pressure, ear pain, length and severity of the hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, past history of ear infections and ear surgeries, and a family history of hearing loss.
Dr. Mendoza and Optimum Audiology are proud to offer Visual Otoscopy. This means that a small camera will be inserted into your ear canal to determine the health of your external ear canal and tympanic membrane. The tiny camera can ascertain if you have cerumen, a foreign body, a perforation, an ear infection, or small bumps on your external canal wall called osteomas. You will be able to see your own ear canal and tympanic membrane on the computer screen so you are a part of the experience of your hearing test protocol.
Differential testing is additional testing beyond the traditional hearing test with beep sounds and spoken words. Differential testing can include tympanometry, acoustic reflexes, acoustic reflex decay, otoacoustic emissions, cognivue, and eustachian tube testing. Each of the differential testing protocols provide a more indepth look at your auditory system. These tests are instrumental in providing additional information to allied specialists like Ear Nose Throat specialists and neurologists.
Tympanometry is a test that puts pressure into your ear canal in order to test your tympanic membrane. If your tympanic membrane is functioning normally, the ear pressure will cause the tympanic membrane to push in and then pull back out when the pressure is moved through the tympanic membrane. This allows the Audiologist to know that the tympanic membrane is moving adequately to allow sound waves to enter the middle and inner ear without delay.
When the tympanic membrane does not move adequately, this is usually related to completed cerumen occlusion in the ear canal or middle ear dysfunction. Middle ear dysfunction can be attributed to ear infections, perforated or thickened tympanic membranes, and discontinuity or fixation of the middle ear bones.
Audiometry consists of testing of your ability to hear different frequencies, having speech testing, and additional testing like Speech In Noise testing that helps them to determine your level of difficulty with your current hearing loss. It also may come with additional testing like tympanometry, acoustic reflex testing and otoacoustic emission testing.
If Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is needed, it would be ordered and requested by your Primary Physician or Ear Nose Throat specialist. If your hearing test revealed certain warning signs, your Audiologist would refer you to the appropriate professional to get the MRI that is needed for further information about your auditory system.
The best way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss is to avoid loud noise, when possible. If you have to be around loud noise, to have hearing protection available for you to use when in the environment. If you work in a loud noise environment, pursue custom hearing protection, which is a custom molded fit of noise reduction devices to your ear canal via impressions taken at the office of Dr. Mendoza within Optimum Audiology.
Optimum Audiology and Dr. Mendoza offer immediate hearing testing appointments for those individuals experiencing sudden hearing loss. A hearing test should come first in your physician visits so allied professionals can have factual data and case history showing the sudden hearing loss repercussions upon your auditory system.
Optimum Audiology and Dr. Mendoza offers solutions for sensorineural hearing loss that is usually via amplification or hearing devices. The hearing devices correct for the hearing loss by providing volume at specific frequencies that match your hearing loss and allow you to hear sounds such as vowels and consonants at an easier volume.
If you have concerns about sensorineural hearing loss Dr. Mendoza at Optimum Audiology is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about your options.