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Hearing Loss Isn’t One Size Fits All

There are many types of hearing loss and each affects individuals in different ways.


​One of my coworkers commented that I frequently ask people to repeat things. I’m only 32. Could I have a hearing problem?

“It’s possible. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. Although hearing problems are commonly associated with aging, more than half of all hearing-impaired persons are younger than 65. With the increased use of personal music players and ear buds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing,” says Kathryn Nowak, Au.D., an Audiology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

“If you suspect you may have hearing loss, make an appointment to see an audiologist. He or she will perform a hearing test to determine the type and degree of hearing loss,” Dr. Nowak recommends.

There are many types of hearing loss, and each affects individuals in different ways. The three main types:

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs from damage to the cochlea (inner ear) or to the pathways from the cochlea to the brain. Exposure to loud sounds, aging, family history, head trauma and certain illnesses are possible causes.

Conductive hearing loss develops when sound can’t travel through the ear canal to the eardrum and the bones in the middle ear, resulting in limited sound. Ear infections, allergies, perforated ear drum and swimmer’s ear are among the causes.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive factors.

Knowing your type of hearing loss is crucial in deciding on a course of treatment. There are several tests audiologists use to measure hearing and hearing loss: pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry, auditory brainstem response evaluations (ABR or BAER), transtympanic electrocochleography (ECOG) and octoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing.

“Once the type of hearing loss and severity have been determined, follow-up care will be recommended,” says Dr. Nowak.

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Kathryn Nowak, AuD

Each case of hearing loss is unique. I aim to give my patients a tailored experience according to their needs and hope to address their concerns

to improve the quality of their communication.