Sensorineural And Conductive Hearing Loss
The outer ear gathers sound waves from the environment and funnels them into the ear canal. At the end of the canal, the waves hit the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. Three tiny bones in the middle ear conduct the vibrations from the eardrum to the cochlea (a spiral-shaped chamber that looks a bit like a snail) in the inner ear. If anything interferes with the transfer of sound waves up to this point, the resulting type of hearing loss is called conductive.Conductive hearing loss may be temporary or permanent. It can be caused by something as simple as a buildup of earwax or an ear infection.
Problems ahead of this point lead to sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve deafness. Normally, the vibrations from the middle ear create waves in the fluid inside the cochlea. The waves in turn stimulate thousands of delicate hair cells that line the cochlea. Their movement makes nerve impulses in the auditory nerve, which lies just beyond the cochlea and carries the impulses to the …show more content…
A bacterial infection of the middle ear can be treated with antibiotics; blockages of the outer and middle ears can be cleared; damaged eardrums can be repaired surgically; and ossicles affected by otosclerosis can be replaced with artificial bones. Some causes of sensorineural hearing loss can also be improved. For example, an acoustic neuroma can be removed surgically.
If there is no cure for the hearing loss (as with age-related hearing loss), a hearing aid for one or both ears usually helps most people, whether the hearing loss is the result of conductive or sensorineural problems. Many different types of hearing aid are available and the audiologist will advise as to which type best suits your needs.
If a hearing aid does not give sufficient amplification, as with profound deafness, a cochlear implant may help. This device transmits sound directly into the auditory nerve through electrodes surgically implanted into the cochlea. Although the sounds heard tend to be of a buzzing or electronic nature, it can be very useful when used with lip reading. It also lets a person hear the volume of their own speech and so makes conversation easier. Cochlear implants can be particularly valuable for deaf children when they implanted around the age of two or three, the time when language skills are developing