Types of hearing loss

There are three types of hearing loss. They are categorised according to the area of the ear that is damaged or not working properly. They are Conductive Hearing Loss, Sensorieneural Hearing Loss, and Mixed Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem transferring sounds through the ear canal to the string of bones in the middle ear called the ossicles. This prevents sounds from being conducted to the inner ear.

The result of this condition is that sounds are quieter, but not necessarily distorted. This condition can be temporary or permanent, dependent on the case.

Conductive hearing loss can occur because of factors affecting either the outer or middle ear.

Outer ear – Caused by a blockage, usually a build up of ear wax; an injury to the eardrum; a cyst; a tumour; an infection of the ear canal; or a foreign item in the ear canal.

Middle ear – Caused by Otosclerosis, which is a state where irregular bone material grows in and around the stapes within the cochlea in the middle ear; Cholesteatoma, which is an irregular skin growth behind the eardrum; a tumour; Otic Barotraumas, which is ear damage caused by dramatic changes in pressure; infections; diseases; or Glue Ear, which is the build up of fluid in the middle ear, of which children are prone to.

The condition can be cured and in certain cases benefit from a hearing aid. Medication and/or surgery may be needed.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when harm is done to the minute hair cells in the cochlea in the inner ear. This condition affects everybody as they age, a process called Presbyacusis, which is why ageing is the most common cause of hearing loss.

The result of this condition is that sounds are quieter, and it also reduces the quality of sounds, making them distorted.

Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by the following:

  • Damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve in the inner ear
  • Damage caused by loud noises, especially if exposed to them for a prolonged period of time
  • A possible side effect of Ototoxic drugs, a treatment used for serious illnesses such as cancer. Can also be found within a number of antibiotic
  • Viral infections of the inner ear such as mumps
  • Other diseases such as multiple sclerosis
  • Infections or irritations of the brain
  • Meningitis
  • Complications at birth such as mothers having rubella at time of birth
  • Injury to the head
  • Benign tumours such as acoustic neuroma
  • Brain tumour
  • Genetic syndromes such as Teacher Collins Syndrome.

This condition is permanent, and at the current time there is no cure. However, hearing can be remarkably improved with the use of hearing aids.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss contains elements of both Conductive and Sensorineural hearing loss, affecting the outer, middle and inner ear.