Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur at any age, for any number of reasons and those it affects have their own particular story to tell. But in general there are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural or mixed (which is a combination of both).

The general and most common causes of hearing loss are age and overexposure to loud noise. However, hearing loss can also occur:

  • as a result of infection during gestation
  • through infection of the middle ear
  • after a head injury
  • if the eardrum is perforated
  • as a result of some cancer treatments
  • as a result of taking certain medications

Conductive Hearing Loss

Any problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted properly is known as a conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing losses are usually mild or moderate in degree, ranging from 25 to 65 decibels.

In some cases, a conductive hearing loss can be temporary. Depending on the specific cause of the problem, medication or surgery can help.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea and is usually permanent. Also known as “nerve deafness,” sensorineural hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound.

Mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss can often be helped with hearing aids or a middle ear implant. Cochlear implants are often a solution for severe or profound hearing loss.

Mixed Hearing Loss

A mixed hearing loss is a combination of a sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. It results from problems in both the inner and outer or middle ear. Treatment options may include medication, surgery, or hearing aids.