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Hearing Loss Types and Diagnostics

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss affects people of all ages. It can vary from profound impairment to treatable ear canal blockages, and its effects can be temporary or permanent.
While gradual hearing loss happens over time, some of us are born with congenital or permanent hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are varying types of hearing loss.

  • Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss is typically caused by problems with the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. Contributing factors may be a malformation of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear structures, ear infection, allergies, poor Eustachian tube function, benign tumors, impacted ear wax, and ear infection.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: This hearing loss is due to problems of the inner ear, or to nerve-related issues. Causes for this type include loud noises, head trauma, disease, aging, malformation of the inner ear, or genetic hearing loss.
  • Mixed hearing loss: This is a combination of conductive or sensorineural hearing loss, meaning there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.

Click here to learn more about different types of hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Diagnostics and Evaluations

Our certified audiologists, many of whom are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology, can determine the type and severity of hearing loss through complete diagnostic hearing evaluation. These include assessments of the patient’s auditory system to identify the affected regions of the ear.

We adjust our assessments to fit the age and development needs of every patient, including newborns and infants.

Our audiologists are equipped with advanced diagnostic options, including:

  • Videonystagmography (VNG): A diagnostic test using video imaging goggles to measure balance from your inner ear. This test is offered at Community Hospital.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): A screening or diagnostic tool that is used for measuring hearing when more conventional hearing tests cannot be used. It is reliable, objective, noninvasive and painless. Brain wave activity in the auditory centers of the brain is recorded in response to a series of clicks or tone bursts presented to each ear. Thus, the ABR test indirectly estimates the level of hearing in the peripheral auditory system (middle ear and inner ear). This procedure can be used as:
  1. Screening for newborns who are at risk for hearing loss
  2. Diagnostic tool to identify infants and small children with hearing loss
  3. Diagnostic tool to estimate hearing levels for difficult to test patients (i.e., developmentally delayed; autistic; uncooperative)
  4. Diagnostic tool with suspected retrocochlear pathology
  • Tympanometry: A screening or diagnostic tool that is used as an objective measurement of middle ear function.
  • Otoacoustic Emission (OAE): A screening or diagnostic tool that is used as an objective measurement of cochlear function. This test can be used on newborns through geriatric patients.
  • Bone Anchored Hearing Aid Implants: An advanced hearing aid that uses bone conduction to help you hear. This device is offered by an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist at St. Catherine Hospital.
  • Comprehensive Hearing Evaluation: A diagnostic tool that is used to measure hearing sensitivity. This test would include pure tone audiometry (air and bone conduction) and speech audiometry.

Get in touch to learn more about hearing loss or Ear, Nose & Throat specialists at Community Healthcare System, or call the free physician referral line at 219-836-3477 or 1-866-836-3472.

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