Different Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by many things, some include:

  • Too much earwax
  • Loud or prolonged noise exposure
  • Aging
  • Getting an object stuck in the ear
  • Or in rare cases an underlying disease

One in eight people in the US suffers from hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be an event or can be a decrease in how well you can hear. Hearing loss ranges from mild to severe, temporary or permanent. Gradual hearing loss can be found in people of all ages. Hearing loss is most common in adults, and it is due to age and exposure to different noises.

Hearing loss sometimes is misunderstood and the effects may cause behavior in others such as inattention, standoffishness, confusion, dementia, or even a change in personality.

Types of hearing loss

Here are the two types of hearing loss - Conductive and Sensorineural

Let’s first take a closer look at, anatomy of the ear. The structure of the ear has 3 parts to it

  1. The outer ear including the pinna (the external part of your ear that is visible) and the ear canal
  2. The middle ear including the eardrum, three ossicle bones, and the Eustachian tube
  3. The inner ear including the cochlea (involved in hearing) and the semicircular canals (part of your balance system)
Ear diagram
Hearing quiz

Think you may be suffering from hearing loss?

48 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

Take our quiz to find out just how bad your hearing is.

Let’s first look at Conductive Hearing Loss

It involves the outer and middle ear. This occurs when sound has a hard time getting through the outer and middle parts of the ear. Soft sounds are harder to hear and the louder sounds may sound more muffled. Sometimes this can be cured by medicine or surgery.

Most of the time when sound passes in the ear canal to the eardrum where it is transmitted across the middle ear to the inner ear by three small bones called the ossicles.  Conductive hearing loss results if there is a  mechanical problem in transmitting the sound from the outer and middle ear to the inner ear.

What are some of the Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss?

  • Earwax (cerumen) or a foreign object stuck in your ear canal
  • Otitis externa - outer ear infection or inflammation, sometimes called “swimmer’s ear”
  • Abnormality in the outer or middle ear –  from heredity or injury, including head trauma
  • Benign tumors blocking the outer or middle ear
  • Perforation of the eardrum - holes in the eardrum from trauma, pressure, or infection
  • Otitis media - infection or inflammation in the middle ear
  • Fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies or otitis media
  • Eustachian tube function – this tube connects your middle ear and your nose to drain fluid from the middle ear
  • Otosclerosis - changes in the ossicles (small bones) in the middle ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss involves the inner ear and/ or Nerve Pathway

This is a type of hearing loss in which the main cause is in the inner ear and/ or sensory organ. Sensorineural Hearing Loss accounts for about 90% of reported hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss causes speech to sound quieter and distorted. Usually, low frequency vowel sounds will be perceived better than high frequency consonant sounds. Soft sounds may also be hard to hear. Even some loud sounds may be unclear or distorted.

Sensorineural hearing loss is also called presbycusis (or presbyacusis) and results from damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea or damage to the auditory nerve that transmits signals to the brain

What are the causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

The most common is age related (presbycusis) or caused by noise.

  • Aging
  • Diseases that include multiple sclerosis, Meniere’s disease, and autoimmune disease of the inner ear
  • Exposure to certain viruses including mumps, measles, and meningitis
  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing
  • Hearing loss that runs in the family
  • Congenital conditions like malformation of the inner ear, premature birth, and maternal diabetes
  • Head or ear trauma can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear
  • Excessively loud noise like a rock concert, an airhorn, or explosions, as in military service or excavation blasting
  • Repetitive noise exposure in industries like machine shops, construction sites, or airport services
Sensorineural Hearing Loss can occur in adults or children

"Dr.Stan Potocki is an excellent doctor."

Dr. Stan Potocki is an excellent doctor. He did surgery for my son who had severe speech delay, so he can hear perfectly and speak fine now. There are no words that I can explain what Dr. Potocki has done for my son!

Hear What Others Are Saying...

What are my options to deal with hearing loss?

Here at Lubbock ENT and Hearing, we are here to help you find the cure that you need. If you see a change in your hearing, do not wait until the last minute. Call us for a consultation today. We can test for both hearing loss types to find out the root of your issue.

Don’t let hearing loss take over your life. Lubbock ENT is here to help.

Call Us Today (806) 853-8744