The medical term for deafness is anacusis, according to Drugs.com. Hearing loss is usually divided into two causal categories, conductive loss and sensorineural hearing loss, according to MedlinePlus.
Conductive hearing loss occurs because of mechanical problems in the ear canal, which prevent the normal transmission of sound waves. These include wax buildup, damage to the ear bones, accumulation of fluid in the ear, obstruction of the ear canal by foreign objects, and problems with the eardrum, explains MedlinePlus.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs from damage to the hair-like projections in the ear, which sense sound. This can be caused by childhood infections that affect the ear, acoustic neuromas, Meniere’s disease, old age, exposure to loud noises, and as a side effect of medication, according to MedlinePlus.
It is important to seek professional medical help if there is sudden, severe hearing loss in one or both ears, ringing in the ears, or if hearing loss is interfering with daily activities. In addition to a thorough physical exam, a physician will perform a series of tests to determine the cause of the hearing impairment. Audiometry is a test that helps identify the type of hearing loss that a patient is experiencing, as well as the level of loss, explains MedlinePlus.