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Your ENT and Hearing Care Specialists

3 Types of Hearing Loss

Man with Hearing Loss

Every type of hearing loss is different. It can be caused and experienced in a variety of ways. Knowing about the different kinds should help you to figure out which kind you or a loved one has, and research your treatment options.

Here are 3 types of hearing loss:

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is less common than sensorineural hearing loss. It is usually caused by an obstruction or damage to the outer middle ear. This is when there is a problem with the outer or middle Ear that interferes with the passing sound to the inner ear. This type can be either temporary or permanent depending on how it is caused. Some common causes include a wax impaction, obstructions caused by foreign bodies being put into the ear and fluid build-up. However, there are many more causes.

You may experience pain in one or both ears, a nasty smell coming from the ear canal, or have an easier time hearing out of one ear than the other if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. It’s common in children and indigenous populations.

This kind if loss can be treated, sometimes by medical treatments or antibiotics.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This is the most common type of hearing loss. It is almost always permanent, and occurs when damage is done to the tiny hair like cells inside of the ear. This weakens the signals sent to the brain. You can be born with this type or develop it later on in life. It can be caused by things like noise exposure, traumatic injuries, blood vessel diseases and more. It can also be genetic or caused by the natural aging process.

If you have this kind of hearing loss you may have a feeling of being dizzy, and other people may sound muffled. You will likely have difficulty following conversations and difficulty hearing women/children especially.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are two common treatments for this type of hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss

This type of hearing loss is a combination of the above. It is usually caused by trauma to the ear, but it can happen over time. You will likely get a combination of symptoms listed above. Treatment will depend on whether the loss is more one or the other, but two treatments can include hearing aids and surgery. With mixed hearing loss, the sensorineural component is permanent, while the conductive component can either be permanent or temporary. It all depends on the circumstances.

If you have any of the above symptoms, know you have hearing loss, or simply have never had a hearing test, it’s important to visit an audiologist right away. They will be able to diagnose you and give you treatment. All kinds of hearing loss is treatable, just in different ways. For some types you may simply need your ears professionally cleaned, and for others, you may need to use hearing aids. Getting treatment ASAP will greatly improve your quality of life.