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Different Types of Hearing Loss

There are different types of hearing loss, depending on which part of the hearing pathway is affected. A specialist will always try to localize where in the hearing pathway the problem lays, so as to be able to classify the hearing loss as belonging to one of the following groups. This is very important when determining the appropriate treatment.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss is due to any condition that interferes with the transmission of sound through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss can be successfully treated in many cases.

Some common causes of conductive hearing loss:

  • Infection of the ear canal or middle ear
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Perforation or scarring of the eardrum
  • Wax build-up
  • Dislocation of the ossicles (three middle-ear bones)
  • Foreign objects in the ear canal
  • Otosclerosis
  • Unusual growths, tumors

Modern techniques make it possible to treat and cure or at least improve the vast majority of cases involving problems with the outer or middle ear. Even if people with conductive hearing loss are not improved medically or surgically, they stand to benefit greatly from a hearing aid, because what they need most is amplification.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. Most hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are age related changes and damage to the hearing due to noise exposure. Sensorineural hearing loss may also result from disturbance of inner ear circulation, increased inner fluid pressure or from disturbances within the hearing nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss may also be called "cochlear loss" and "inner ear loss" and is commonly called "nerve loss." 
Many professionals once thought there was nothing that could be done for sensorineural hearing loss -- that is absolutely incorrect!!! There are many excellent options for patients with sensorineural hearing loss. People with sensorineural hearing loss typically report they can hear people speaking, but they can't understand what they're saying. People with sensorineural hearing loss also complain that "everyone mumbles." They also usually hear better in quiet places and may have difficulty understanding what is said over the telephone. 

Mixed Hearing Loss

Frequently, a person experiences two or more types of hearing impairment, and this is called mixed hearing loss. This term is used only when both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses are present in the same ear. However, the emphasis is on the conductive hearing loss, because available therapy is so much more effective for this disorder.