Mayo Clinic Minute: What is hearing loss?

Vivien Williams: Hearing loss is very common.

Matthew Carlson, M.D.: There's a lot of different types of hearing loss.

Vivien Williams: Dr. Matthew Carlson says temporary hearing loss can happen when your ears are plugged with wax or fluid behind the ear drum, for example. Nerve-related hearing loss is usually permanent.

Dr. Carlson: We call it sensorineural hearing loss. There are thousands of different causes of sensorineural hearing loss. The most common is probably just being over the age of 50…

Vivien Williams: …or having a history of loud noise exposure. Dr. Carlson says just about all types of sensorineural hearing loss have to do with the loss of the function of hair cells in your inner ear.

Dr. Carlson: The hair cells, which are the end part of the inner ear that actually take the mechanical sound and turn it to electrical sound…

Vivien Williams: …become fewer or don't function well. Hearing aids help to increase volume. For people with profound hearing loss, cochlear implants work by bypassing the hair cells and sending signals directly to the hearing nerve and brain. Once health care professionals figure out your type of hearing loss, they can tailor treatment that's best for you. For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Vivien Williams.

Last Updated Feb 5, 2019

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