Types of Hearing Loss


Conductive Hearing Loss

A conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a dysfunction, obstruction or malformation of the outer or middle ear. Ear infections (otitis media), excessive earwax, disease or deformity of the eardum, ossicles or  middle ear as well as trauma can prevent sound from travelling through  to the inner ear.

 

Conductive hearing losses can often be medically or surgically treated by an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. Certain types of amplification may also be recommended depending on the type of conductive problem. 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

A loss of hearing sensitivty that occurs due to damage or malfunction of the inner ear (cochlea)  or auditory nerve is known as a sensorineural hearing loss. This loss is considered permanent. The use of amplification (hearing aids or cochlear implants) is required to make it possible to hear.

Mixed  Hearing Loss

When there is a combination of both conductive and sensori-neural components to the hearing loss, it is known as a mixed hearing loss. A head injury, or long-lasting, chronic infection can cause damage to both the outer or middle ear and the inner ear.


Mixed hearing losses may require both medical treatment by an ENT specialist and amplification.

Hidden Hearing Loss

Hidden hearing loss (HHL) also known as cochlear synaptopathy) is a type of hearing impairment caused by exposure to loud noise. Loud noise  not only damages hair cells in the inner ear, but can also damage the ear’s nerve cells. When this happens, information cannot be sent to the brain accurately because the nerve cells have lost their connections (synapses) to the hair cells in the cochlea.   A reduction in the amount and quality of  information from the ear to the brain results in increased difficulty correctly interpretating and understanding.

A hidden hearing loss doesn’t normally affect a person’s ability to hear quiet sounds, but it makes it harder to hear sounds when there is competing background noise. This type of hearing loss is usually not detected by conventional hearing tests. 


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