Types of Hearing Loss

200285139-001-300x223Just as hearing loss can be caused by a number of different factors, it is also broken down into different categories. The three main types of loss are conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. The type of treatment you receive depends on what kind of hearing loss you are suffering from.

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Conductive hearing loss is the result of a mechanical problem with the conduction of sound vibrations in the middle or outer ear. It usually occurs when the bones of the middle ear (ossicles) fail to conduct sound as they should, or the eardrum doesn’t vibrate in response to sound. This type of hearing loss is often treatable with medications or surgery.

Problems that can cause conductive hearing loss include earwax buildup, bone growths or other obstructions of the ear canal, foreign objects in the ear, fluid in the ear due to an ear infection, perforated or damaged eardrum, damage to the ossicles, Swimmer’s Ear, benign tumors, and otosclerosis, a disease that causes bone to harden.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is nerve damage to the inner ear. Sounds do not come through clearly, but appear faint or muffled. This is the most common type of hearing loss, and may be accompanied by dizziness or tinnitus. It usually cannot be corrected medically or surgically, but responds well to treatment with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Sensorineural hearing loss can be congenital, or it may develop as the result of natural aging, noise exposure, trauma, infections, autoimmune diseases, malformation of the inner ear, tumors, ototoxic drugs, Meniere’s disease, and otosclerosis.

Mixed hearing loss, as the name implies, is a combination of both types.