Different Types of Hearing Loss and Their Causes

June 17, 2013


When the severity of a hearing loss needs to be determined, different ranks are used to establish the degree. However, when the nature of the hearing loss needs to be determined, it is the different types of hearing loss that are considered. Any impairment in hearing can be traced back to a cause, and we will discuss about the different types of hearing loss and causes in this post.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be classified into one of either three types- a conductive hearing loss, a sensorineural hearing loss or a mixed hearing loss, which, if is a combination of the two.

Conductive Hearing Loss

This hearing loss which can either be acquired, or occur congenitally, stems from a problem in the ear canal, the ear drum, or the middle ear. It’s an obstructive problem where sound is unable to reach the nerves of the inner ear, and consequently, no signal is sent to the brain.

Causes for conductive hearing loss

  • If the problem arises during the congenital phase, it could be because of a genetic error in the formation of the outer and middle ear structures, leading to a malformation, or an absence of these parts.
  • Acquired conductive hearing loss could have a pathological cause such as otitis media, fluid retention in the middle ear, poor function of the Eustachian tube, or from a perforated eardrum.
  • Other causes include the presence of a foreign body in the canal, an accumulation of earwax, or otosclerosis, where a bone grows around the stirrup, one of the bones of the middle ear, preventing sound conduction.

Conductive hearing loss can be corrected through surgery, or through the use of hearing aids, or medication, depending of course, on the specific cause.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This loss can also be congenital or acquired, and affects the sensory and neural structures of the ear. The sensory part involves the cochlea, while the neural part involves the auditory nerve. Those experiencing this loss are unable to hear, or make out the sounds they hear. There is a profound loss in quality and quantity of sound they perceive.

Causes ofSensorineural Hearing Loss

  • Congenital causes include infections such as rubella, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus.
  • Low birth weight, and head and neck defects have been correlated with the loss.
  • Acquired causes include use of ototoxic drugs, trauma to the head or ear, meningitis, exposure to loud noises, autoimmune disease of the ear, tumors and Meniere’s disease.

Depending on the precise course, treatment options include surgery, or through the use of hearing aids, though these have not demonstrated as much success.

Mixed hearing loss

When both of the aforementioned types are present, it is described as a mixed hearing loss. In this case, the conductive loss is addressed first, and then the sensorineural component is addressed second, as it more complex.

Author’s Bio:

Erin Emanuel writes on various healthcare subjects. Here she shares some knowledge of the Hearing Aids on behalf of the Hearing Excellence that provides assistance to the hearing impaired people.



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