Types of hearing loss

There are Three Types of Hearing Loss

There are numerous causes for each, at Healthy Hearing we will be able to determine what type of hearing loss you have and often the potential cause.

Sensorineural hearing loss

It is the most common form accounting for 90% of permanent hearing loss.

Typical and most common cause of what is more commonly known as nerve deafness are the natural ageing process, exposure to loud noises, viral ear infections  and certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy. With a nerve loss, the microscopic cochlea  hair cells in the inner ear become irreparably damaged and can no longer respond to sound stimuli. In rare cases the problem is transference of information from the nerves of the inner ear to the brain.

Nerve deafness cannot be corrected with medicine or surgery and is considered permanent and progressive, however hearing aids are a perfect resolution and can be very helpful.

Conductive hearing loss

Less common but still seen regularly, a conduction loss can be caused by excessive ear wax, damaged ear drum(s), ear infection or fluid in the middle ear,  or ossification of the bones of the middle ear (otosclerosis).

Is caused when sound waves cannot be transmitted through to the cochlea because of blockages by obstructions. These blockages can be situated in the outer ear more commonly known as the ear canal, for example a significant accumulation of ear wax, or by a problem in the middle ear such as ear infections.

Sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the small bones of the middle ear. With conductive hearing loss, there is typically a reduction in sound levels and the ability to hear faint sounds across a wider range of frequencies, and generally in the lower frequencies. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically. In these cases you will be referred to you GP for assessment or treatment.

Occasionally the problem is situated in the ear drum itself, which  seals the middle ear from the outer ear, for example a perforated ear drum, again a GP will need to be aware of this before hearing aids can be prescribed.

It can very often be treated medically with high success, although chronic conditions or those considered unsuitable for medical intervention can wear hearing aids very successfully.  We will always advise you when this is not the case.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Sometimes conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as mixed hearing loss.

In the same way as with a conductive loss, medical intervention may be the solution, although this will  still leave the nerve loss element. Hearing aids are successfully fitted to mixed losses once the medical resolution has been fully explored.