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Conductive hearing loss (CHL) is the result of damage to the outer or middle ear that prevents sound energy from traveling to the fluid within the cochlea. In general, the cochlea is responsible for transforming the vibrations of the cochlear fluids into neural signals that ultimately result in the ability to hear.
This type of loss in hearing is described as feeling like the “volume” has been turned down. It is also said to be similar to a clogged ear, which is understandable as a blockage in the ear is also a common cause of CHL.
In terms of duration, CHL can be temporary or permanent. However, many people with this type of loss in hearing can experience an improvement. Because your hearing health is an essential component of your overall health and well-being, it is important to understand what CHL is and what can be done to address it.
Signs of Conductive Hearing Loss
The signs or symptoms of CHL can vary from person to person. However, it is important to note that CHL mainly affects how loud things sound rather the clarity of the sounds. For instance, individuals often report that their television’s volume sounds low. When they increase the volume, they experience a significant improvement in their hearing ability. This, of course, is a temporary fix. Untreated hearing loss can lead to a permanent loss of hearing.
There are a variety of signs that indicate an individual may be experiencing CHL and can either be related to changes in hearing or manifest as a physical symptom.
– sounds are muffled
– trouble hearing others talk
– the sound of your own voice is different to you
– steady or sudden loss in the ability to hear
– can hear better out of one ear
– tenderness or pain in one or both ears
– odor emanating from the ear or ears
– feeling of pressure, fullness, or a stuffy sensation in one or both ears
– draining from one or both ears
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
Hearing loss from CHL can be caused by blockages. Additionally, it can result from damage to the structure of the outer ear, middle ear, or the ear canal.
CHL is a common result of an infection located in the middle ear. Normally filled with air, the middle ear can become filled with fluid during an infection. This excess fluid reduces the ear’s ability to transfer sound to the cochlea which impairs the individual’s ability to hear.
Although your body naturally produces earwax, it can accumulate to the point that it totally blocks your ear canal, which can significantly impact your ability to hear.
This type of CHL occurs when an object blocks the sound from reaching the cochlea. Although it is common for children to place beads or other small objects in their ears, adults can suffer from this type of blockage when a bug accidentally enters the ear.
Hole in the tympanic membrane
Commonly referred to as the eardrum, a hole in this membrane can be the result of a variety of things, such as a trauma or infection.
Resulting from a malfunctioning auditory tube, a pressure imbalance in the middle ear can cause the eardrum to collapse.
This is a condition where skin cells that are not normally present in the middle ear begin to grow. The skin cells start as a small lump, but they can grow and ultimately damage the bones located in the middle ear.
Treatments for Conductive Hearing Loss
Because untreated hearing loss can lead to permanent loss in your hearing, it is important to address CHL as soon as possible. There are a variety of approaches to treating hearing loss, and these treatments depend on determining the cause of your CHL. To protect your hearing health, you should first see an ear specialist to receive a diagnosis and learn about treatment options.
Determining the appropriate approach to treating hearing loss is based on your doctor’s evaluation, which may include a hearing test as well as a CT or MRI. Treatments might include the following:
– earwax removal
– observation in conjunction with repeated hearing tests at follow-up visits
– hearing aid
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