The unique mechanisms in the ear and brain are able to transform sound waves into meaningful sounds such as speech. Just as there are a number of possible hearing loss causes, there are also various types of hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect one or both ears, and can be caused by a number of factors.
There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.
There are many other types of hearing loss you can experience, including:
May only notice increased difficulty hearing in situations of background noise.
Difficulty hearing softly spoken people or children, or soft sounds in the environment such as your footsteps or your clothes rustling.
Can hear loud vowel sounds but may miss soft consonant sounds.
Significant difficulty hearing softly spoken people, missing a range of environmental sounds such as the telephone ringing.
Can miss consonant sounds, and vowel sounds are more difficult to hear. As a result, speech sounds unclear or mumbled.
Friends and family may be commenting on your hearing.
Significant difficulty hearing speech at any level, and nearly all environmental sounds are inaudible.
May be consciously or subconsciously relying on lip-reading to help with communication
Hearing aids are necessary to understand speech, but you are still likely to have difficulty in background noise.
Unable to hear very loud sounds like aeroplane engines, traffic or fire alarms.
Even with hearing aids, speech may be difficult to understand if the speaker is not facing you and speaking clearly in a quiet environment.
Learn more about the most common hearing diseases and conditions.