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The Basics of Hearing Loss

hearing loss chartAn audiogram is a graphic chart of how we hear in certain frequencies (Hz). Decibels (dB) is how loud or soft we hear sounds. The Speech Banana is the area on the audiogram that represents the range of human speech. The audiologist will plot your responses on the audiogram using the symbols “O” and “X”. These symbols represent the softest level (threshold) of your responses to the beeps in each frequency. The symbol “O” marks responses of your right ear. The symbol “X” marks responses of your left ear. These are referred to as air conduction thresholds. The further down the graph these symbols are marked, the greater the hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing will have these symbols above the speech banana.

Audiogram by Starkey Laboratory

Central Auditory Processing

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that blocks or impedes the transmission of sound through the middle ear or down the ear canal. The result is a reduction in the sound intensity (loudness) that reaches the cochlea (inner ear). In many cases, the cause of conductive hearing loss is treatable and can result in partial or complete improvement in hearing.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss results from dysfunction in the inner ear or on the auditory nerve. Often, the cause cannot be determined. It is typically irreversible and permanent. In addition to the reduced intensity (loudness) of sound, the clarity of speech is also affected. Speech is perceived as being muffled or unclear. People sound as if they are mumbling. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through hearing aids.

Mixed Hearing Loss
A mixed hearing loss is a combination of a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing aids can be beneficial for individuals with a mixed hearing loss, but caution should be exercised. It is highly recommended that an audiologist and/or a physician carefully examine you prior to amplification.

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