types of hearing loss
Conductive Hearing Loss: Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer and middle ear which can prevent sound from getting through to the middle ear. Common causes can be a build-up of wax in the ear canal, a perforated ear drum, fluid in the middle ear or defective middle ear bones.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the nerve fibres in the inner ear get damaged. This prevents them from transmitting sound properly. Common causes can be excessive exposure to noise or the natural process of ageing.
Age-related hearing loss
As we get older we can lose our ability to hear softer, high-pitched sounds which include some of the building blocks of speech.
Noise-induced hearing loss
This is often caused by over exposure to excessive noise. Those exposed to loud noise can be military personnel, police officers, construction workers, factory workers, dentists and farmers or anyone exposed to loud equipment. Rock Concerts and MP3 players such as ipods can damage an individual’s hearing as well.
How we hear speech:
Sounds can be described as loud or soft, high-pitched (high-frequency) or low-pitched (low-frequency). Birds singing is a high- pitched sound and traffic in the street is a low-pitched sound. What makes speech so difficult with hearing loss is that it involves many different sounds in a rapid flow. The softer high-pitched consonants such as “f,” “s” or “k” can be drowned out by the louder low-pitched vowels, such as “a” “e” and “o”. So if someone says “statue” and all you can hear is “s_a_ue” you will have to try to guess the rest while the conversation is continuing to progress. Sounds such as birds singing, footsteps and leaves rustling in the wind are some of the first to fade away unnoticed. If you miss these everyday sounds, you may also be missing key speech sounds which will make words sound muffled and blurred.
Hearing Loss does not only affect the hearing impaired but also those with whom they interact. Whether through meaningful conversation or playful teasing, the exchange of ideas becomes slower and more tedious. Hearing loss can happen so slowly that the person affected is often the last to know. Friends, family and coworkers are likely to spot the problem first. The problem becomes not the hearing loss itself but that the individual does not recognize it and do something about it.