What Are the Different Types of Hearing Loss?


Quick Answer

There are three basic types of hearing loss, according to Hopkins Hearing: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss may be reversed by means of medication or surgery. Sensorineural and mixed hearing loss are usually permanent, although hearing aids can help those affected to hear better.

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Full Answer

Conductive hearing loss results from an obstruction in the middle or outer ear, which blocks sound from travelling into the inner ear, states the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Direct causes of conductive hearing loss include the presence of a foreign object or a benign growth, earwax build-up, and fluid collection in the ear due to illness or infection. Abnormalities in the ear structure can also lead to conductive hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear structure or its associated neural pathways that carry auditory information and signals to the brain, says the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Sensorineural hearing loss is unfortunately permanent and can occur as a result of physical trauma to the head or ear, infection, prolonged exposure to high levels of noise and the use of oto-toxic medications such as the antibiotic gentamicin, which can damage the ear. Aging and genetic predisposition can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss results from the simultaneous occurrence of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. As with sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss cannot be reversed, but hearing aids can help many individuals to regain some auditory function according to Hopkins Hearing.

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