What are the types of hearing loss?

Posted on December 28, 2013 by ECR Louisville in Blog, Hearing Loss

Jan 3rd, 2012

Featuring Linda Donaldson, Clinical Audiologist, MA CCC-A FAAA

There are three basic types of hearing loss. The first type which frequently occurs in young children is referred to as conductive hearing loss. “Conductive” refers to the reduced ability of the ear to conduct the sound waves of speech and other environmental sounds to the organ of hearing. When sound travels into a person’s ear, it first vibrates the eardrum, moves 3 little bones (ossicles) in an air-filled space, and then travels to the organ of hearing (cochlea) where fluids and tiny hair cells are moved to send the sound information to the nerve of hearing and on to the brain for interpretation.

Causes of conductive hearing impairment include, but are not limited to: foreign objects lodged in the ear canal, damage to the eardrum, damage to the ossicles, and infections of the ear canal or behind the eardrum. Wax buildup is also a frequent cause of conductive hearing impairment. Conductive hearing impairments can usually be improved with hearing devices, medicines, and/or surgery. Sometimes physicians will recommend hearing devices even after surgery has been performed to optimize a person’s hearing.

The second type of hearing loss is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. This type of loss is very common and refers to impaired or lost function of the cochlea or the nerve of hearing which travels to the brainstem. This type of loss can be sudden, but is more likely very gradual over time. Sensorineural losses are permanent losses which can not be remedied by medications or surgery. Hearing devices are the primary way to improve hearing and word understanding for these types of losses. Cochlear implants are helpful in extreme cases. There are many causes of sensorineural impairment some of which are excessive noise exposure, hereditary factors, certain diseases, and, most commonly, aging.

Finally, mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of a conductive loss and a sensorineural loss. For example, a person with a sensorineural loss due to aging may also have significant wax impaction which is a conductive problem.

If you or your loved one is having trouble understanding speech, a consultation with one of our trained hearing healthcare professionals can help you determine what type of loss you may have and what type of help is appropriate for you. Call Avada Hearing Care today and set up an appointment at a location near you. We can help you hear what you’ve been missing!

About The Author:

 Linda Donaldson, Clinical Audiologist, MA CCC-A FAAA