Types of Hearing Loss

What Is Conductive Hearing Loss?
Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems with the outer or middle ear that prevent sound waves from reaching the inner ear. Problems of this area might be in the ear canal, eardrum, or in the small bones of the middle ear, as a result of infections, fluid, a perforation in the eardrum, or earwax buildup. A medical provider can treat conductive hearing loss with certain medications if it caused by an infection or a buildup of fluid. They can also help by cleaning earwax and making recommendations to help prevent further wax buildup. In some cases surgical intervention is required. A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is often helpful for patients with this type of hearing loss.

What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
When the inner ear or nerves that send the hearing signal are damaged over time, it can lead to sensorineural hearing loss. This is the most common type of hearing problem and it is most often due to damage to the hair cells that send sound signals to the brain. Aging, loud noise, trauma to the head, genetics, and certain diseases are the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss. These hair cells cannot be repaired, so sensorineural hearing loss is usually not medically treatable. However, people with this type of hearing problem can turn to hearing aids as a means to hear better and improve their quality of life. Some types of sensorineural hearing loss are treatable, mainly if the injury is short-term. If you have a sudden hearing loss, contact your doctor immediately.

What Is Mixed Hearing Loss?
Some people have a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. For example, if someone has age-related hearing loss, then suffers trauma to the eardrum. If you have mixed hearing loss, your doctor can recommend which type is to be treated first in order to maximize your chances of success.