Types of Hearing Loss

There are three basic types of hearing loss in patients—conductive, sensorineural, or mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of the two.

Conductive hearing loss:

This type of hearing loss occurs when sound cannot adequately travel through the outer ear to the eardrum and small bones in the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss can often be treated medically or with surgery. There are many causes of this type of hearing loss such as:

  • Ear infections, referred to as otitis media
  • Fluid from allergies or colds, called serous otitis media
  • Infection in the ear canal, or external otitis
  • Impacted earwax, or cerumen
  • Malformation of the outer ear, canal or middle ear
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Presence of a foreign body
  • Benign tumors, cholesteatoma

When medical treatment has been exhausted, this loss can be treated with hearing aids.

Sensorineural hearing loss:

Sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent loss that is best treated with hearing aids. It cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This loss occurs with damage to the inner ear, called cochlea, or to nerve pathways from the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss result from:

  • Aging
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Head traumas
  • Noise exposure
  • Toxic drugs
  • Various diseases
  • Viruses 

This type of loss can be treated with hearing aids.

Mixed hearing loss:

If a patient has damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or auditory nerve, the hearing loss is then referred to as a mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of a conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Once medically cleared, this hearing loss can also be treated with hearing aids.

Disclaimer About Medical Information: The information and reference materials contained on this website are intended solely for the general information of the reader and is not to be used for treatment purposes. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems, is not to be considered medical advice and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional.
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