So what is normal hearing and how do you know your hearing is declining?
Normal hearing usually means that a person is able to hear any level above 25 decibels. To determine this, a hearing health professional performs a test where they simply present different tones and words to you and examine the results.
A hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe, profound or even at times unaidable. It can be unilateral, which means that one ear is normal and the hearing loss is only existent in one ear. It can be bilateral, which means that both ears are impaired. The diagnosis will also determine if the hearing loss is due to the impairment on the outer ear or inner ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss is when there is permanent damage done to the hair cells of the inner ear or the auditory nerve. The damage block or weaken sound signals to the brain and will, therefore, affect the loudness and clarity of sounds. It is the most common type and often treatable with a hearing aid.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is an obstruction in the outer or middle ear. The damage can be temporary, like wax, or permanent.
Mixed hearing loss commonly occurs when the ear sustains some sort of trauma. It also can happen gradually over time when one hearing loss is compounded by another. For example, a person with a long-standing conductive hearing loss might experience age-related hearing loss as they age. Alternatively, a person with age-related hearing loss may have a temporary mixed hearing loss due to wax impaction.
Regardless of which type of hearing loss you may have, it is important to go see a hearing health specialist to figure out how to move forward. The sooner a hearing loss is discovered and diagnosed, the higher is the probability to get it treated.