Types of hearing loss
There are three types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most typical type of hearing loss. It happens when the inner ear nerves and hair cells are injured; possibly due to age, noise damage, or both. Sensorineural hearing loss affects the pathways from your inner ear to your brain. Most times, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be repaired medically or surgically but can be managed and treated with hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is typically the outcome of obstructions in the outer or middle ear; possibly due to liquid, tumors, earwax, or even ear formation. This obstruction blocks the sound from getting to the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss can often be treated surgically or with medicine.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is just what it sounds like; a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
As with any medical condition, it’s better to know what you “have” before choosing what to do. A consultation with a hearing specialist can help decide the type, cause, and degree of your hearing loss.
How hearing loss can occur
Hearing loss is caused by many factors, most frequently from natural aging or exposure to loud noise. The most common causes of hearing loss are:
- Sound exposure
- Head injury
- Disease or illness
- Things that can cause sensorineural hearing loss are:
- Excessive noise
- Viral contagions (such as measles or mumps)
- Ototoxic medications (medications that damage hearing)
- High fever or elevated body temperature
- Ménière’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance)
- Acoustic tumors
Things that can cause conductive hearing loss are:
- Infections of the ear canal or middle ear resulting in fluid or pus buildup
- Perforation or scarring of the eardrum
- Gradual buildup of earwax. Earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. Earwax removal can help restore your hearing.
- Dislocation of the middle ear bones (ossicles)
- Foreign object in the ear canal
- Otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear)
- Abnormal growths or tumors