Understanding the Three Types of Hearing Loss

Confusion, frustration, and the destruction of relationships are common results of hearing loss. Fortunately, there are solutions for eliminating these issues and improving quality of life. To provide adequate solutions, hearing care professionals must identify the cause or type of hearing loss through various types of hearing tests. Understanding the three types of hearing loss provides insight into the hearing correction options available.

Conductive Hearing Loss
People who experience conductive hearing loss report that voices and sounds appear to be far away or faint. Hearing loss of this type is due to some form of blockage or malformation along the sound conduction route from the outer ear through the middle ear to the inner ear. Blockage can be a result of something temporary and simple like:

  • Earwax Buildup
  • Swelling or Fluid from an Infection
  • A Growth or Tumor in the Ear Canal

More complicated causes might include:

  • Perforation or Scarring of the Eardrum
  • Otosclerosis. Abnormal growth or stiffening of bones of the middle ear prevents proper functioning of these conductive structures.

Most of these causes are reversible through simple procedures (wax or growth removal, or ear tubes) and medications, while others require more extensive and complex surgical repairs. However, in some cases, conductive hearing loss is not treatable by these measures, labeled as permanent conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids and middle ear transplants are common treatments for permanent hearing loss of this type.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The type of hearing loss caused when nerve damage prevents proper transmission of sound signals from the inner ear to the brain for processing is sensorineural hearing loss. The issue usually relates to a malfunctioning of the tiny sensors lining the snail-shaped, fluid filled organ of the inner ear called the cochlea. This damage can result from a variety of causes including:

  • Injury
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Viral infections, such as measles or mumps
  • Ototoxic drugs, which are medications that damage hearing
  • Meningitis
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • High fever
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Acoustic tumors
  • Heredity
  • Age-related deterioration

Traditional hearing aids provide a treatment solution for most sensorineural hearing loss issues, but severe cases might require a cochlear implant procedure.

Mixed Hearing Loss
In very rare cases, hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, a.k.a. mixed hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is the result of conductive damage to the outer or middle ear combined with nerve or sensory damage in the middle ear. Surgical procedures and medications or hearing aids are common solutions applied to mixed hearing loss.

Hearing loss has destructive consequences with the potential to reduce your quality of life. By identifying the different types of hearing loss and applying the right solution, hearing care professionals can return your life to normal. A hearing test by Hearing At Home is an initial step toward recovering your loss of hearing and restoring your life and relationships. Contact us for more information about scheduling a hearing test in your Charlottesville home, office, care center, or any location in the Harrisburg area.