Auditory Neuropathy (AN)
Auditory neuropathy is a type of hearing loss that occurs due to poor transmission of sounds to the auditory nerve and brain. While the outer hair cells of the cochlea are intact and undamaged, sound transmission is still unreliable. The inclusion of neuropathy in the title suggests a disease of the peripheral auditory nerve, but there may not be any direct auditory nerve dysfunction with auditory neuropathy. This may be a disorder of the inner hair cells in the cochlea, the nerve synapse at the auditory nerve, or due to an auditory nerve lesion. Treatment may include hearing aids or cochlear implants, but success is not guaranteed.
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
CAPDs are disorders of the processing of auditory information. Poor processing is noted by issues in one or all of the following categories: sound localization and lateralization, discrimination, pattern recognition, integration, ordering, and grouping of sounds. Actual hearing loss may not necessarily be present. Treatment typically included therapy that focuses on listening, comprehension, memory, and the like, that is customized to each patient's needs.
Hearing loss is an impairment of the ability to hear. There are three main types: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Conductive hearing loss implies damage or dysfunction in the outer or middle ear. This affects the loudness of sound. Sensorineural hearing loss implies damage or dysfunction of the inner ear. This affects the clarity of sound. Mixed hearing loss involves a combination of the two. Treatment may include both medical management and hearing aids.
Middle ear infections
Middle ear infections are infections of the middle ear space behind the ear drum where the small bones of the ear are located. This type of infection can cause both temporary and permanent conductive hearing loss. Treatment is medical management with antibiotics or surgical intervention with placement of pressure equalization tubes.
Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that can affect both hearing and balance. Patients may experience vertigo, tinnitus, and fluctuating, progressive hearing impairment. Treatment may include therapy for coping strategies, surgical intervention for severe cases, and physiotherapies. Hearing aids may also be fit for those with hearing loss. A competent audiologist with experience fitting patients with Meniere's disease should be consulted. Due to its fluctuant, progressive nature, fittings are highly specialized for these patients.
Otosclerosis is a disorder that causes abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, preventing proper middle ear function. Hearing loss may be conductive, sensorineural, or mixed in nature. If the effects of the otosclerosis are severe, prosthetic surgical intervention may be appropriate. However, more mild issues will typically be treated with a hearing aid alone.
Presbycusis is hearing loss due to the natural process of aging. Hearing aids and assistive listening devices are the most common treatments. Some patients may also require auditory training therapy to help in their daily communication.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ear that others cannot typically hear. Usually described as ringing, buzzing, popping, pulsating, or squealing, tinnitus can range from mild to severely impairing. Treatment may include intense therapy and sound programs.
Tumors of the 8th cranial nerve
Various types of noncancerous or cancerous tumors may grow on the vestibular and/or auditory portions of the 8th cranial nerve. Hearing and balance may be affected. Patients with tumors often also experience tinnitus issues. Hearing loss may be progressive or sudden. Surgery is often required for these issues.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms noted here or are having any other hearing or balance related issues, seek help immediately. Help is just around the corner. Contact your audiologist today for an evaluation for any of these hearing disorders.