Types of Hearing Loss

There are 3 forms of hearing loss that can affect the auditory system. We will explain the differences between conductive, sensorineural and mixed hearing loss and the potential causes.

Conductive hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is normally caused due to an obstruction in the middle or outer ear which prevents sound traveling to the cochlea in the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss makes sounds softer and less easy to hear. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected surgically or a hearing aid or device can be implemented.
In most cases, conductive hearing loss can be treated by visiting an Audiologists or GP.

Causes of conductive hearing loss

  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Malformation of the middle ear, ear canal or middle ear
  • Ear infection (otitis media)
  • Poor eustachian tube function
  • Perforation of the eardrum
  • Compacted ear wax (cerumen)
  • Swimmer’s ear (external otitis)
  • Foreign body blocking the ear canal

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the cochlea or hair cells within the inner ear. Once the tiny hair cells become damaged, the hair cells loose rigidity and we loose the ability to accurately interpret sounds. Sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent form of hearing loss which can range from mild, moderate, severe and profound. Sensorineural hearing loss also occurs naturally with aging and is the most common type of hearing loss we treat.

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss

  • Aging (presbycusis)
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  • Heredity
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Sudden loud noises(high decibels)
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Otosclerosis

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is caused to a combination of sensorineural damage to the inner ear and conductive damage to the out or middle ear. This means both the outer and inner ear are damaged resulting in hearing loss or difficulties. The outer ear becomes unable to conduct the sound correctly to the inner ear while the inner ear is unable to process the sound to the brain.

Causes of mixed hearing loss

  • Genetic factors
  • Natural aging
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Compacted ear wax
  • Malformations of the outer or inner ear

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