When you think about hearing loss, you probably imagine feeling tired, unable to hear clearly, and feeling embarrassed that you cannot understand what someone is saying. The reality is you are not the only one suffering from some form of hearing loss. Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from this condition, many of them being older adults.
In general, there are several types of hearing loss, with conductive hearing loss being one of the most common. This type affects the outer and middle ear by restricting sounds from being processed in the inner ear. The good news about it is that it isn’t noise-induced and is usually reversible medically or surgically if the hair cells are healthy.
Read below to learn more about the causes and treatment options of conductive hearing loss.
There are many possible causes for conductive hearing loss. The most common ones include:
- Earwax buildup in the ear canal, which causes complete blockage;
- An infection of the middle ear that can cause fluid buildup in the ear canal and middle ear;
- A foreign object inserted in the ear such as a small piece of a cotton swab;
- Cholesteatoma, which is a condition that blocks sound from reaching the inner ear;
- Otosclerosis, which is a condition that can cause bone fractures in the middle ear;
- An injury to the head or the ear that causes damage to the structures of the middle or outer ear;
- An injury or infection that can cause a perforated eardrum.
The good news about these causes is that some of them can be easily treated, while others may require more complex treatment. This is because a conductive hearing loss could sometimes be an indication of a more serious health condition such as a tumor in the hearing nerve, which requires special care and treatment.
Signs of conductive hearing loss
There are many signs of conductive hearing loss, all ranging from mild to severe. The most common ones include:
- A sudden or unexpected loss of hearing in one or both ears;
- All sounds seem muffled or blocked in the one ear;
- Feeling that your ears are full or stuffed;
- It is difficult to hear soft sounds at both low and high pitches;
- Clear or yellow drainage from the ears;
- Headache or pain in the ear;
- Balance difficulty or dizziness.
If you experience any of these signs, it is important that you immediately make an appointment with a hearing specialist to determine the right treatment for you.
Available treatment options
There are many treatment options for conductive hearing impairment and all of these vary depending on the source of your hearing loss.
However, before you seek treatment, you should first determine the severity and cause of your hearing loss by doing a comprehensive hearing test performed by a hearing specialist. The test will reveal what sounds you are missing and the source of your hearing loss.
Typically, almost all forms of conductive hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically. If the potential cause of your hearing loss is an ear infection or fluid in the ear, then you will probably be prescribed antibiotics or antifungal medication to treat the condition.
However, if the cause of your conductive hearing loss is due to a damaged eardrum or damaged middle ear bones, then you may need surgery. Some surgical procedures you can undergo include correcting the ear structure, removing earwax or buildup, draining excess fluid, and opening a path for sound to reach the inner ears.
Another surgical option for treating conductive hearing loss is cochlear implants. These implants will bypass damaged structures in the middle of the ear and send sounds directly into the inner ear.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids
A pair of quality hearing aids can also help with some cases of conductive hearing loss. These hearing aids will enable you to hear the sounds around you and then send those sounds to your inner ear.
Modern hearing aids can be sophisticated digital devices that scan the environment and amplify sounds you have difficulty hearing. They can focus on speech sounds, reduce background noise, and ensure you hear what you want. They are almost invisible and can be controlled with an app for remote control on your smartphone.
Conductive hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss which can occur in people of all ages. Fortunately, this type of hearing loss can be treated in a few different ways, including medically, surgically, or with the help of hearing aids.
However, before you seek treatment, it is important to consult with your doctor and learn more about it so you can take the right steps.