Hearing Loss Types
Old man listening to seashell

Hearing Conditions

Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss):

Aging often causes a hearing loss in high pitches before low pitches. Common experiences of individuals with this kind of hearing loss include:

  • It sounds like everyone is mumbling
  • They need to ask people to repeat themselves, especially in noisy environments
  • They have trouble hearing on the phone or while watching television

For these individuals, the solution is not to just turn up the volume on everything. Instead, we can amplify particular pitches in order to improve clarity of sound without making everything seem loud.

For more information on age-related hearing loss, please visit: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/Age-Related-Hearing-Loss.aspx.


This is extreme sensitivity to loud sounds. People with hearing loss often experience hyperacusis, and we can program their hearing aids to make soft sounds louder without making loud sounds too loud.

For more information on hyperacusis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539655/.


Auditory Deprivation

When someone’s hearing loss is a result of damage to the sensory cells (the most common cause of age- and noise-related hearing loss), the stimulation to the auditory nerve is weakened. This decrease in stimulation causes the nerve to get “out of practice” and, over time, lose some ability to process sounds. This makes it hard to understand words, even when they are loud enough to hear. In this situation, using hearing aids consistently can actually prevent a more rapid decline in speech comprehension.

A research study on this topic can be found at: http://www.audiology.org/sites/default/files/journal/JAAA_03_06_03.pdf.

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL):

This is hearing loss that occurs rapidly over a period of hours or days. SSHL should be treated as a medical emergency and those who experience it should see a doctor as quickly as possible. Hearing may recover with treatment. If it doesn’t, these individuals are often ideal candidates for hearing aids because they have experienced very little auditory deprivation (see above).

For more information on sudden sensorineural hearing loss, please visit: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/sudden.aspx.

Hearing Loss and Other Health Concerns

Studies have found a link between untreated hearing loss and several other health concerns:

Hearing Loss and Dementia

In 2011, a study conducted by various hearing professionals found that as the severity of the hearing loss increases, so does the likelihood of dementia. When asked to complete cognitive tests, individuals with untreated hearing loss scored significantly lower than those without.

For further reading on the link between hearing loss and dementia, please visit: http://www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/.


Hearing Loss and Diabetes

A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination survey has found that some degree of hearing loss affects over 67% of diabetic adults, which is about twice as high as the prevalence in the non-diabetic population. Also, the American Diabetes Association reports that “of the 86 million adults in the US who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher than in those with normal blood glucose.”

For further reading on the link between hearing loss and diabetes, please visit: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/seniors/diabetes-and-hearing-loss.html.

Hearing Loss and Depression

A recent study found that participants with unaddressed hearing loss were more likely to have depression, anxiety, and interpersonal sensitivity. Studies also show that people who seek solutions for their hearing loss experience fewer depressive symptoms, greater social engagement, and improved quality of life.

For further reading on the association between hearing loss and depression, please visit: http://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-depression-social-isolation.

Balance Disorders

Ménière's Disease:

Ménière's Disease, also called Endolymphatic Hydrops, is a condition in which excessive fluid builds up in the inner ear. This condition may cause a fluctuating hearing loss, a plugged sensation in the ear, a roaring or humming tinnitus, and/or severe episodes of vertigo. Ménière's Disease is diagnosed based on symptoms present, results on ECochG testing, and response to treatment. Treatment may include dietary changes to reduce fluid retention (e.g., controlled salt intake), use of diuretics, and sometimes surgery.

For further information on Ménière's Disease, please visit: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance/pages/meniere.aspx.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV refers to a positional dizziness caused when crystals of the inner ear’s balance system (vestibular system) become dislodged and free-float in the canals of this system. Typical symptoms include brief (20-45 second) episodes of spinning vertigo, which occur every time a person is in a particular position (e.g., when rolling to one side in bed, when tilting head back). BPPV is confirmed with a test called the Dix-Hallpike and is treated using a repositioning maneuver. In many cases, all symptoms resolve after a single treatment session.

For further information on BPPV, please visit: http://vestibular.org/underst anding-vestibular-disorders/types-vestibular-disorders/benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo.

Vestibular Labyrinthitis

Vestibular Labyrinthitis is caused by a virus entering and infecting the inner ear’s balance system. This infection may cause severe spinning vertigo that lasts for hours or even days. ENG testing is used to diagnose vestibular labyrinthitis, and treatment may include medication and/or physical therapy exercises. Most individuals find that their symptoms are significantly reduced within the first few weeks and fully resolved within months.

For more information on vestibular labyrinthitis, please visit: http://vestibular.org/labyrinthitis-and-vestibular-neuritis.


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© 2018 Wandzel ENT | Huron Vallery Hearing
Wandzel E.N.T.
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Highland Location

222 W. Highland Rd.
Highland, MI 48357

(248) 889-7600
Howell Location

820 Byron Rd. Ste. 500
Howell, MI 48843

(517) 548-5900