Hearing Loss

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is caused by obstructions or malfunctions in the outer or middle ear. Put most simply, it usually results in a reduction in volume. It can be caused by:

  • Middle ear damage or disease
  • A damaged ear drum
  • Impacted ear wax.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear and/or the associated neural pathways. It is the most common form of hearing loss and results in more than just a reduction in volume. It can be caused by:

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Diseases, such as Meningitis
  • Ageing.
  • Genetic factors & conditions
  • Congenital factors such as low birth weight

Prevalence of Hearing Impairment in the Australian Population

The prevalence of hearing impairment in the Australian population aged 15 years and over is estimated to be 22%. That means, the number of "adult" people in Australia with a hearing impairment can be estimated at 3.25 million.

Hearing Impairment in an Australian Population; Wilson, Walsh, Sanchez, Read. Centre for Population Studies in Epidemiology, South Australian Department of Health Services 1998.

The Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be a very debilitating problem if left untreated. People with hearing loss may experience a range of social and emotional issues and may find social situations quite daunting. Many people struggle to interact socially and professionally due to their hearing difficulties. In children, hearing loss can have profound and long term affects if left untreated. Hearing and language are essential skills in a child's development. Should a hearing loss go undetected or untreated, children may face social, emotional and academic difficulties.