When our hearing ability falls above normal thresholds, hearing loss is suspected. There are three main types of hearing loss:
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing Loss
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is a problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Most conductive hearing losses are temporary and can be treated with medication or surgery. When it cannot be treated with those means, most people benefit from the use of a hearing aid.
Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss are:
- Fluid in the middle ear from colds
- Ear infections
- Perforated eardrum
- Impacted cerumen (earwax)
- Benign tumors
- Swimmer’s Ear
- Presence of a foreign body
- Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of a problem in the inner ear. It occurs when hair cells in the cochlea are missing or damaged. These are responsible for producing signals that the brain needs to interpret sound.
Some possible causes of sensorineural hearing loss are:
- Drugs that are toxic to hearing
- Head trauma
- Malformation of the inner ear
- Exposure to loud noise
Mixed Hearing Loss
Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. This is when there is damage to either the outer or middle ear and the inner ear or auditory nerve. When this occurs, this is called a mixed hearing loss.