Conductive hearing loss:
A conductive hearing loss means that there is problem in the patient’s outer or middle ear. Most conductive hearing losses are not permanent and can be treated surgically or medically. Should the audiologist determine a conductive loss during the hearing evaluation, the patient would most probably be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT will evaluate the patient and determine the right course of intervention. It is important that patients with conducive hearing losses be retested by the audiologist after intervention or surgery, to determine is the conductive component has been resolved.
Sensory hearing loss
A sensory hearing loss is permanent hearing loss and there are usually not any surgical or medical treatment available to reverse or improve the hearing loss. This type of hearing loss consists of damage to the cochlea in the ear, which is the ‘hearing centre’. Damage to the cochlea can occur due to age, infection, long term exposure to loud sounds (such as working in the mines or with loud machinery daily), acoustic trauma (such as sudden, close range explosions or gun shots) or medication. Most of the time, the intervention of a sensory hearing loss is the fitting of hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss
A mixed hearing loss is a combination of a conductive and a sensory hearing loss, meaning some of the damage is in the outer or middle ears and some of it is in the cochlea. For most patients, the conductive component has to be evaluated and treated first by an ENT, thereafter the sensory component is treated with hearing aids if possible.
Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing noise (or any abnormal sound) in one or both ears, that is not generated by external sound but by the ear/brain itself. It can be constant or intermittent and differ in loudness between patients. Tinnitus is often associated with a hearing loss, but can also be seen in patients with normal hearing. Although tinnitus is usually harmless, albeit annoying, it can also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such a tumour or neurological issue. Best is to have a hearing evaluation done should you experience tinnitus.