Types of hearing loss

Learn more about the different types of hearing loss, including conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.

There are many different types of hearing loss and it affects people in varying degrees and ways, at different stages of life.

The type of hearing loss you have will depend on where the problem lies. Your hearing loss could begin in your inner, middle or outer ear, in the way your brain processes sound, or in a combination of places.

The severity of hearing loss also ranges widely, from mild to moderate to severe to profound. You may have hearing loss in both ears (bilateral) or in just one ear (unilateral), as happens with single sided deafness. You may have been born with hearing loss, acquired it suddenly as a child or adult, or be experiencing a gradual decline in hearing over time.

The good news is there are effective treatment options for virtually every type and degree of hearing loss. If you suspect you have a hearing loss, your first step should be to visit a hearing specialist to have your hearing tested and discuss your treatment options. The right hearing solution will improve your ability to communicate in a wide range of situations, and help you to live a more active, fulfilling and happy life.

Types of hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem with the outer or middle ear, such as earwax, an ear infection, a punctured eardrum, fluid build-up, or abnormal bone growth. Solutions for conductive hearing loss include bone conduction hearing aids and bone anchored hearing devices.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by a problem in the cochlea and/or hearing nerve, the inner part of the ear that converts sound to electrical information and sends it to the brain. This type of hearing loss is permanent and can be genetic or caused by the natural aging process, diseases or exposure to noise and certain kinds of chemicals. Solutions for sensorineural hearing loss include hearing aids, cochlear implants, hybrid cochlear implants and auditory brainstem implants.

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent, while some types of conductive hearing loss may be temporary. For example, mixed hearing loss can occur when a person with age-related hearing loss (sensorineural) also has a middle ear infection (conductive). Age-related hearing loss is permanent, but the ear infection may resolve without lasting effects.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that result in a breakdown in the hearing process. In short, the brain cannot make sense of what the ears hear because the auditory signal is distorted in some way. As a result, one of the biggest problems experienced by individuals with CAPD is difficulty listening in background noise.



The information on this website is for educational purposes, and is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional to diagnose or treat a hearing or health problem.

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