Hearing loss can be an uncomfortable condition for approximately one in eight Americans, but did you know there are several types of hearing loss? More importantly, there are different ways of treating each type of hearing loss.
Conductive, sensorineural, and mixed types of hearing loss all cause difficulty hearing soft sounds, and even potentially louder sounds, but there are some key differences in how they are caused and treated.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss happens when sound waves are blocked from passing through the outer or middle ear. Some of the common causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- Impacted earwax
- A foreign object stuck in the ear canal
- An ear infection
- Fluid in the middle ear
- A hole in the eardrum
- A structural abnormality
This is commonly seen in children when they’ve stuck something in their ear, or if they have frequent ear infections. The good news about conductive hearing loss is it is often treatable with medications, surgery, or a combination of the two.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. Some of the common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- Genetic conditions
- General aging
- A head injury
- Exposure to loud noises or explosions
- Certain diseases
- Some medications
While sensorineural may be the most common type of hearing loss, it can be more difficult to treat than conductive, and often isn’t reversable. It can, however, be helped with hearing aids. Many people who suffer with sensorineural hearing loss find this to be a helpful option.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Some people affected by hearing loss can actually have a combination of both conductive and sensorineural. One may present before the other, or they can occur at the same time. The causes of mixed hearing loss can be the same as other types of hearing loss, and there may be more than one condition affecting your hearing.
Understanding the type of hearing loss you or your loved one are dealing with can have a huge impact on how you go about treatment. You may decide with your hearing care provider that you can pursue medication or surgery, or you may decide it’s best to get fitted for a hearing aid. Knowing more about the condition causing your hearing loss can also ease your mind and lessen the stress surrounding your symptoms.
Think you may be experiencing one of these types of hearing loss? Contact our office today so we can help you hear better again.