Types of Hearing Loss

Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be classified into three categories, each with its own set of causes and features. Each form of hearing loss refers to the precise part of the hearing system where the damage has occurred.

What are the different types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be present from birth or develop over time as a result of a disease, an accident, exposure to certain medicines and chemicals, or, more commonly, as part of the natural aging process or exposure to loud noise.

In general, hearing loss is classified into three forms. There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.

Conductive hearing loss

This is caused by problems in the outer and middle ear, which can prevent sounds getting through to the inner ear. The most common causes can be a build up of wax in the ear canal, perforated ear drum, fluid in the middle ear, or damaged middle ear bones.

Mixed hearing Loss

Mixed Hearing Loss is a Hearing Loss condition when both the components of Conductive Hearing Loss and Sensorineural Hearing Loss are present. It is caused by the combination of Conductive damage in the outer or the middle ear and Sensorineural damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. A person with Mixed Hearing Loss will either suffer from permanent Hearing Loss or the temporary hearing loss. Mixed Hearing Loss can affect either one ear or both ears.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when fragile sensory cells or nerve fibers in the inner ear are damaged, preventing them from properly transferring sound. Causes include ototoxic medications (drugs with hearing-related side effects), meningitis, and Meniere’s illness; however, the most prevalent causes are natural aging or excessive noise exposure. Typically, this condition is permanent.

Types of hearing loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

This happens when there’s an issue with the outer or middle ear. Problems in these areas are frequently caused by a mechanical disruption in the path of sound through the inner ears. This causes a reduction in the perceived loudness of a sound for the sufferer and is frequently treated with surgery or other forms of medical care. The following are the most typical reasons of conductive hearing loss:

Outer ear canal:

  • Blockage by ear wax, or foreign objects
  • Ear canal infection or ‘swimmers ear’
  • Bony growths in the canal known as exostoses or ‘surfers ear’
  • Birth injuries

Middle ear:

  • Middle ear infection or ‘glue ear’ (a build-up of fluid) – most common in children
  • Perforated eardrum that does not heal’
  • Damage to the tiny bones that conduct sound. For example Otosclerosis
  • Benign growth in the middle ear (Cholesteatoma)

Mixed Hearing Loss

This is when damage has occurred to both the middle ear and inner ear systems. This can happen when multiple conditions co-exist or in cases of otosclerosis.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing loss of this kind occurs most frequently. It is sometimes known as ‘nerve deafness’ or ‘perceptive loss’. It happens when the delicate structures of the inner ear, or cochlea, and/or its nerves are damaged. It is usually permanent and can compromise sound clarity and amplification, causing voices to sound like mumbles or become distorted.

Sensorineural hearing loss is most commonly caused by the following:

  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  • Age-related alterations
  • Meningitis, measles, mumps, and Meniere’s illness
  • Inherited factors

Age-related hearing loss

Different types of hearing loss Conductive hearing loss Mixed hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss Age is the leading cause of hearing loss. As most of us age, the regular wear and strain on our hearing systems eventually decreases their effectiveness. As your hearing worsens, it becomes more difficult to hear soft voices and high-frequency noises, such as those of children and women. People with age-related hearing loss may struggle to follow discussions when there is background noise. Because the loss occurs gradually, you may be unaware that you have lost some hearing function. Often, family members detect age-related hearing loss before the sufferer does.

Other Terms Used to Define Types of Hearing Loss

When this occurred:

  • Acquired: Begin after birth
  • Congenital hearing loss occurs at birth, either owing to inherited or genetic causes, or other situations such as maternal health difficulties or birth injuries.

Hearing loss can be permanent or temporary.

  • Whether it’s temporary or permanent: A temporary hearing loss can result from exposure to extremely loud noises only once, which is referred to as a temporary threshold shift, or from a medical condition like glue ear.