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How Is Hearing Loss Diagnosed? Are There Different Types of Hearing Loss?


By Margaret Christiansen, Au.D., Audiology Consultants

A comprehensive hearing test is used to diagnose hearing loss. Prior to testing, the audiologist will conduct a case history to gather information regarding your hearing concerns as well as other symptoms such as ringing in the ears, dizziness, and ear pain. The ears will be inspected to look for any abnormalities or wax that could be impacting your hearing. A comprehensive hearing test will determine hearing levels for a range of pitches, evaluate ability to understand words, and provide information regarding the cause or source of your hearing loss. Depending on the findings of the hearing test, the audiologist may perform additional tests to further evaluate your situation.

Hearing loss occurs at different degrees and can occur for a variety of reasons. Information gathered during the hearing test determines what kind of hearing loss is present. There are three categories of hearing loss.

  • Sensorineural hearing loss—This is a common kind of hearing loss which is permanent in nature. It is caused by damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear or the hearing nerve itself. This can have a variety of causes including aging, heredity factors, and exposure to noise.
  • Conductive hearing loss—This kind of hearing loss occurs when sound is not traveling through the ear system as it should. There are a variety of ear conditions that can cause this. Sometimes this kind of hearing loss requires consultation with a physician and, in some instances, may be corrected medically.
  • Mixed hearing loss—This occurs when hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive loss.

When a hearing test is performed, the audiologist determines what kind and how much hearing loss is present and will make recommendations regarding necessary next steps. In addition to determining the type of hearing loss, the audiologist is also evaluating the overall health of the ear and looking for patterns of hearing loss that may necessitate a medical evaluation.

If you have concerns regarding your ears or hearing, contact an audiologist!

Now is a great time to have your hearing checked! Audiology Consultants’ offices are located at 2215 East 52nd St., #2, Davenport, IL: 563-355-7712; 600 Valley View Dr., Moline, IL: 309-517-3889; Unity Point Clinic, 3426 North Port Dr., #500, Muscatine, IL: 563-264-9406; or Hammond Henry Hospital, 600 College Ave., Geneseo, IL: 309-944-9181.