Types of Hearing Loss

Types of Hearing Loss:

The type of hearing loss can be categorized by which area of the auditory system is damaged.  There are three major categories, conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss: This type of hearing loss occurs when the sound is not sufficiently conducted through the outer ear, including the external ear canal, through the ear drum and middle ear space.

Conductive hearing loss can occur for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • • Cerumen (ear wax) impaction, foreign body or external ear canal infection/abnormality/growth preventing the sound from efficiently traveling down the ear canal.
  • • Tympanic membrane (ear drum) abnormality prohibiting the membrane from efficiently vibrating, including a perforation, scar tissue, etc.
  • • Middle ear dysfunction caused by poor eustachian tube function, ear infection, benign tumor, etc.
  • • Ossicular chain abnormality preventing the bones from appropriately transmitting sound from the ear drum to the hearing organ.  The bones may have become disarticulated or fused together.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: This hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear, including the hearing organ (cochlea) or the nerves that connect the cochlea to the brain.  This type of hearing loss is typically permanent.

Sensorineural hearing loss can occur for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • • Genetic abnormalities
  • • Birth injuries
  • • Ototoxic medications
  • • Head trauma
  • • Disease
  • • Virus
  • • Tumor
  • • Excessive noise exposure

Mixed Hearing Loss: A mixed hearing loss occurs when there are conductive and sensorineural components to the hearing loss, indicating possible damage to the outer and middle ear.

Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a roaring, swooshing, ringing or other type of noise in the ears.  It can be constant or intermittent.  It may be in one or both ears.  Tinnitus is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem. 

There are many causes of tinnitus, including but not limited to the following:

  • • Damage to the hearing organ due to virus, head trauma, excessive noise exposure, age, etc.
  • • Diseases of the inner ear, including Meiere’s Syndrome.
  • • Ear tumors
  • • Certain medications or combinations of medications.

Please contact our office should you have concerns regarding your hearing ability, tinnitus or any other symptoms related to your hearing or ears.

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