The answer to the above question is "no!". We are dealing with different types of hearing loss. But in order to know what kind of hearing loss we are dealing with, it might be wise to know how our wonderful hearing system works. We we will try to explain this through the image to the right.
On the left you can see the auricle. The auricle captures sound that travels through the outer ear canal to the eardrum. The auricle enables you to localise sounds, i.e. hear them in the direction they come from. And for this we need two ears.
In the middle ear, there is an air-filled space connected to the Eustachian tube. The air vibrations from the outer ear are amplified and converted into fluid vibrations in the cochlea. This happens thanks to our wonderful leverage of the auditory bone chain, the hammer, the anvil and the tiniest bone in our body, the stirrup.
The rocky bone of our skull conceals the inner ear in a very safe place. The inner ear contains the cochlea and the semicircular canals of the balance organ. In the cochlea, fluid vibrations are converted into electrical signals. The pressure wave in the cochlea causes the "basilar membrane" to vibrate. The vibration of the basilar membrane causes the hair cells in the cochlea to move. Here the sound is processed and leads to its perception. In other words, perception. Now you have a small idea of how our wonderful ears work. But now the different degrees of hearing loss.
A conductive hearing loss is a loss where sounds are not properly transmitted to the inner ear. Your loss is either in the outer ear or in the middle ear. If your loss is in the outer ear, or in your ear canal, it is caused by things such as a wax plug. If there is a hole in the eardrum, or fluid behind the eardrum, you will not hear well either. After all, the vibrations are not properly passed on to our cochlea. It also happens that due to inflammation or calcification of the hearing bone chain someone cannot hear well. All this has to do with the fact that the vibrations are not passed on properly to our inner ear. In most cases, a general practitioner or an ENT specialist can treat a conductive hearing loss. This can sometimes be done with the help of medication, the removal of earwax or a medical procedure such as surgery.
As hearing care professionals, we most often see clients with sensorineural hearing loss. With sensorineural hearing loss, the tiny hair cells in the cochlea do not function as well as they should. As we age, the hair cells wear down. But a person who is exposed to noise for a long time will also experience damage to the hair cells. Therefore, when exposed to noise, it is sensible to protect both ears with hearing protectors. A loss in the inner ear can also be caused by an infection or a hereditary defect. Chemotherapy or the use of certain medicines can also damage our hair cells.
Unfortunately, treatment of sensorineural hearing loss is not possible. However, wearing hearing aids can help you hear and understand sounds more easily. That's why it's so great that we, as hearing care professionals, can offer you the possibility of hearing aids that make it easier to distinguish sounds again. Because if the high tones are no longer heard properly, it will also be more difficult to understand. Distinguishing consonants becomes difficult, did the person say "just" or "fake". These clients also often indicate that someone is not speaking clearly, or is speaking in a muffled voice. This is not the case, but it is because they are less able to understand. If the quality of hearing and understanding is still optimal, we can already adjust a lot with hearing aids.
With a mixed hearing loss , a hearing impaired person has a loss in both the conductive and sensorineural parts. There are many other types of hearing loss, but the three above are what you as a hearing care professional will encounter. Fortunately, in most cases it can be solved by wearing a beautiful hearing aid.
It might be nice to know that hearing loss can be divided into different levels. The classification is often made by taking the average loss over several frequencies. Unfortunately, the hearing test does not always indicate the degree of impairment of the hearing loss. It is good to know that the limitations also depend on the communicative requirements, the acoustic conditions in which the person must function or the amount of noise that is audible.
Normal hearing: 0-20 dB
Mild hearing loss: 20-40 dB
In this case, you will be able to hear soft speech or whispers less well, and understanding at a distance or in noisy situations will also cost you energy.
Moderate hearing loss: 40-60 dB
Understanding at normal speech level will be difficult. It is therefore understandable that the longer the distance, the more problematic it becomes. Understanding at a distance of 1 metre also becomes a problem. When making a phone call, you almost have to put your ear to the receiver, because this will also become more and more difficult with this loss.
Severe hearing loss: 60-90 dB
Now it becomes difficult to understand even loud speech. Hearing warning signals such as sirens from an ambulance or a fire engine or police car will not be heard well.
Profound hearing loss: > 90 dB
It is possible to understand something with lip vision, i.e. speech. However, you will no longer be able to hear the loud noises around you, such as a motorbike racing past or a lorry. Even if your housemate is working on the house with a drilling machine, you will not be able to hear this.
Deaf: > 120 dB
We can shout and scream at you, but unfortunately the sound of speech is insufficient to understand anything. You are also no longer aware of all the sounds around you. Life is very quiet.
Total deafness: 120 dB and more:
You can only perceive vibrations of the loud sounds.
In short: hearing loss is different for everyone, as it depends on many factors.
A tip, if you suspect that your hearing is impaired, always have your hearing tested. Or if you are involved in music or construction, be kind to your hair cells. Protect them with good hearing protection.