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Types of Hearing Loss

2012-09-04

When sound is stopped for whatever reason   the brain can no longer process the information accurately.  Sound can be muffled, softer, even distorted.  Hearing loss can be temporary, medically treated, or progressive.  Understanding the nature of the loss will better prepare you for your options.
 
Conductive Hearing Loss:
This type of hearing loss is caused by problems in the ear canal and/or the structures in the middle ear. It occurs when sounds from the outside world cannot be transmitted normally through the ear canal and/or middle ear to the inner ear.
The most common causes of conductive hearing loss can be a buildup of wax in the ear canal, perforated eardrums, fluid in the middle ear (common in children), or damaged or effective ossicles (middle ear bones).
A person with conductive hearing loss may notice their ears seem to be full or plugged. Most conductive hearing losses can be medically or surgically treated. If, for some reason, the hearing loss cannot be corrected, hearing instruments can provide benefit.
 
Sensorineural Hearing Loss:
This type of hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. More than 90 percent of all hearing instrument wearers have sensorineural hearing loss.
It results from a combination of problems in the inner ear and the auditory nerve. They then become unable to convert sound vibrations into the electrical signals needed by the auditory nerve.
The nerve pathways in the auditory nerve itself can also become damaged, preventing the signals from reaching the brain. Although this damage can be caused by exposure to loud noise - through working in a noisy environment for too long - the primary reason is aging.
People with sensorineural hearing loss typically report they can hear people speak, but can't understand what they're saying.  Hearing instruments and assistive devices can help.
 
Mixed Hearing Loss:
This kind of hearing loss is caused by a combination of problems in the middle and the inner ear or the auditory nerve. For example, the person may have a noise induced hearing loss from noise exposure and a perforation in the eardrum. The combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing therefore the loss is mixed.

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