Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur at any age, for any number of reasons including trauma to the ear, disease, infection, and repeated exposure to loud noises which is becoming a more common cause of hearing loss problems. In general, there are three types of hearing loss: Conductive Hearing Loss, Sensorineural Hearing Loss, or Mixed Hearing Loss which as the name suggest, is a combination of both.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically.

Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss:

  • Fluid in the middle ear from the common cold
  • Ear infection
  • Allergies
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Impacted earwax a.k.a. cerumen
  • Swimmer’s Ear
  • Presence of a foreign body in the ear
  • Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss also reduces the ability to hear faint sounds – even when speech is audible, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.

Some possible causes of sensorineural hearing loss:

  • Illnesses
  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing
  • Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
  • Aging
  • Head trauma
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Exposure to loud noise

Mixed Hearing Loss

Sometimes conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with sensorineural hearing loss. This means there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as mixed hearing loss

People who have hearing loss are often not aware of it. Family members or friends are usually the first to notice the hearing loss. Fortunately, there have been a lot of advancements in hearing loss treatment and hearing aid technology over the past few years. Hearing aids are not only helping people hear better and improving their quality of life, but nowadays, you can wear a hearing aid without anyone even noticing it.  If you believe you or a loved one are suffering from hearing loss problems, please don’t wait – GET YOUR HEARING TESTED!

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Last Updated: Dec 17, 2013