Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by many different elements and sources. It can be categorized by which part of the auditory system is damaged and the degree to which hearing loss is occurring. Thankfully, many types of hearing loss can be successfully managed with proper care and treatment.

There are three fundamental types of hearing loss:

  1. Conductive Hearing Loss
  2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
  3. Mixed Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle ear and prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds. However, this type of hearing loss, in most cases, can be corrected medically or surgically. For the cases where it cannot be corrected by those means, hearing aids may be the answer.

Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss:

  • Fluid in the middle ear from colds
  • Ear infections
  • Allergies
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Impacted cerumen (Earwax)
  • Benign tumors
  • Swimmer’s Ear
  • Presence of a foreign body
  • Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Another type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. This is the result of a problem in the inner ear, and it occurs when hair cells in the cochlea are missing or damaged. As implied, this function is responsible for giving signals to the brain that, in turn, interprets sound.

Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss are:

  • Illnesses
  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing
  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Head trauma
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Exposure to loud noise

Mixed Hearing Loss

The final type of hearing loss occurs when there is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. There may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or auditory nerve. This describes why it is called mixed hearing loss.