Types of Hearing Loss
There are a few different types of hearing loss that are characterized by the physical reason or location of the reason behind it. At McNeill Audiology, we believe it is important to know what type of hearing loss you have so we can recommend the best solution to help your specific needs.
If you want to know more about the different kinds of hearing loss, we wrote this quick guide to help. You can call us at any time if you have additional questions.
In general, there are three types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural (‘sensory’) hearing loss makes up the vast majority of cases. It is characterized by the inner ear, sensory organ, or auditory nerves becoming damaged or deteriorated. In most cases, the issue lies with the hair cells in your cochlear losing the ability to sense the vibrations that sound makes. This means that your ears cannot perceive sound to send to your brain.
Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Genetics — you are born without the necessary organs and/or hair cells to hear, or with only limited capability
- Health conditions — infections, diseases or health conditions (e.g., diabetes) that affects the sensory organs in your ears
- Aging — everyone will experience a natural deteriorating in the health and effectiveness of their ear’s sensory organs as they get older
- Exposure to noise — being around noise over 85 dB without hearing protection will damage your sensory organs
Some of these causes can be treated with medication or medical intervention, or prevented with proper hearing protection. If you act soon enough you may be able to reverse temporary sensorineural hearing loss. You can read more about the general causes for hearing loss in our helpful guide to help you learn how to protect your hearing.
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Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is less common, and refers to when you lose the ability to process sound through the outer or middle ear. It usually affects lower frequency sound, and presents as normal sounds seeming muffled, faint, or blocked.
Some cases of conductive hearing loss can be discovered by a simple visual inspection of your ears, specifically your ear canals. Our clinicians would be able to see if there is any blockage or protrusion in your ears that would affect the ability of sound to pass through your canals to your sensory organs.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
Here is a quick list of the most common causes of conductive hearing loss:
- Ear wax blockage — excessive wax can partially or completely block your ear canal from receiving sound
- Inflammation in your ear — from any illness, infection, or other health condition
- Biological blockage — tumors, scar tissue, perforation, bone, etc that partially or completely blocks your ear canal
- Genetics — either a health condition or biological issue you are born with
- Illnesses & disorders — otitis media, cholesteatoma, otosclerosis, etc.
It can be more common for conductive hearing loss to be temporary, due to a number of health conditions that can cause a partial or complete blockage of your ears. However, some cases are due to a permanent condition that can be fixed either through surgery (to remove a blockage) or hearing aids.