Types of Hearing Loss

Potomac River

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Most conductive hearing losses are temporary and can be treated with medication or surgery. When it cannot be treated with those means, many people benefit from the use of a hearing device.

Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss are:

  • 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

Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of a problem in the inner ear, and occurs when hair cells in the cochlea are missing or damaged. These are responsible for producing signals that the brain needs to interpret sound.

Some possible 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

Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss, and occurs when there is damage to either the outer or middle ear and the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type of condition is called a mixed hearing loss.

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