Types of Hearing Loss
There are a few different types of hearing loss: conductive, sensory, mixed (conductive and sensory combined), and neural.
* Conductive (say: kun-duk-tiv) hearing loss. This happens when there is a problem with a part of the outer or middle ear. Most kids with conductive hearing loss have a mild hearing loss and it is usually temporary because in most cases medical treatment can help.
* Sensory (say: sen-suh-ree) hearing loss. This happens when the cochlea is not working correctly because the tiny hair cells are damaged or destroyed. Depending on the loss, a kid may be able to hear most sounds (although they would be muffled); may be able to hear in quiet but not in noise; only some sounds; or no sounds at all. Sensory hearing impairment is almost always permanent and a kid's ability to talk normally may be affected.
* Neural (say: nur-ul) hearing loss. This happens when there is a problem with the connection from the cochlea to the brain. Neural means related to nerve, so neural hearing loss means the nerve that carries the messages from the cochlea to the brain is damaged.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss can happen because a person was born with parts of the ear that didn't form correctly and don't work well. Other problems can happen later because of an injury or illness, including:
* middle ear fluid
* serious infections, such as meningitis
* head injury
* listening to very loud music, especially through headphones
* repeated exposure to loud sounds, such as machineryLots of kids have had ear infections, which also can cause hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss is rare from an ear infection, but you need to visit the doctor if you or your parents suspect you have one.