By Erika Gagnon, Au.D., CCC-A

 

Asymmetric Hearing Loss is when degrees of hearing loss are not the same across each ear. Typically hearing levels are similar across ears. If asymmetric hearing is found, the ENT will likely request imaging of the inner ear to see if there are anatomical causes for the difference in hearing between ears.

 

Unilateral/Single-Sided Deafness is when a person has normal hearing in one ear and a severe-to-profound hearing loss in the other. Typically hearing loss is the same or very similar across ears, making single-sided deafness a unique hearing configuration. There are a variety of treatment options: no treatment, hearing aid, assistive listening devices such as ROGER, CROS Aid (Contra-Lateral Routing of Signal), BAHA (Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid) and cochlear implant. Discussion with ENT and audiologist can help decide what the best intervention is for each patient.

 

Progressive Hearing Loss is hearing loss that gets worse over time. This progression can happen quickly or take many years, making routine hearing evaluations vital. They also allow for discussion with your provider about appropriate interventions for the degree of hearing loss and to ensure that current technology is programmed appropriately.

 

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a drop of 30 dB over three continuous frequencies occurring in three days or less.  This fast onset hearing loss is often unilateral and is accompanied by tinnitus or ringing in the ear. Rapid change in hearing could be caused by abnormal inner ear anatomy, infections, ototoxic medication or unknown causes. Consult your audiologist and ENT for potential treatment and interventions.

 

Auditory Neuropathy is when abnormal responses are found on ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) testing. A diagnosis of auditory neuropathy could result in a range of hearing loss configurations. Speech and language development should be closely monitored as there can be difficulty understanding speech with appropriately fit hearing aids. A cochlear implant can be an intervention option for those with auditory neuropathy who struggle with speech understanding.

 

References:

Gelfand, S. (2009). Essentials of Audiology. 333 Seventh Ave. New York, NY 10001: Thieme Medical Publishers.

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