There are three common types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.
But the fact that there are many types of hearing loss may come as a surprise to you, especially if you are just beginning to research the subject.
Are you or a loved one struggling with hearing loss? Learn about the different reasons why your hearing may not be as clear and crisp as it once was, and discover what you can do to combat your hearing loss issues.
Note: If you have experienced sudden hearing loss, it is in your best interest to contact an ENT specialist as soon as possible. Sudden hearing loss treatment is most successful when treatment occurs within the first two weeks after hearing loss.
Not sure what an ENT is or whether or not you should see one? These additional resources can help you make informed decisions about visiting an ENT:
- Should I see an audiologist or an ENT?
- Do you need a referral to see an ENT?
- Work with an experienced ENT in South Florida
The different types of hearing loss
What are the 3 types of hearing loss? What is the most common type of hearing loss? And is it possible to get your hearing back? Let’s break it down.
The classifications of hearing impairments are most easily differentiated by where in the ear an individual’s hearing loss originated. Please reference the below image for more information regarding the placement of the outer, middle, and inner ear.
Outer & middle ear: Conductive hearing loss
The systems that can be affected in the outer and middle ear include the ear canal, eardrum, and the three tiny bones that make up the ossicles. Problems occur when sound runs into interference along this pathway. Patients may be able to avoid permanent damage if they manage their conductive hearing responsibly,
The most common form of interference is a buildup of earwax. If a foreign body (an object, tumor, or bone growth) has somehow made its way into your ear, hearing loss may occur. Perforation of the eardrum can also cause conductive hearing loss. Treatment for these types of conductive hearing loss typically includes removal of the earwax or foreign body and/or surgery.
Another common cause of conductive loss is the presence of fluid in the middle ear. This type of hearing loss occurs more frequently in young children and is often found in conjunction with other infections. Specifically, the build-up of mucus from allergies, colds, and sinus infections can block up the Eustachian tube and cause temporary hearing loss.
(For more information on this phenomenon, read the articles: Can a Sinus Infection Cause Hearing Loss? and Sinusitis and Tinnitus.)
Finally, perforation of the eardrum, abnormal bone growth and a “freezing up” of the ossicles (which typically vibrate) may also cause conductive hearing loss or, in severe cases, permanent hearing loss.
Inner ear (cochlea): Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is today’s most common type of hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss occurs when the hair-like cilia in the inner ear are damaged, the auditory nerve is damaged, or both.
Age-related hearing sensorineural hearing loss (called presbycusis) tends to be permanent. Frequent exposure to noise (or exposure to sudden loud noise) can, over time, worsen sensorineural hearing loss.
Several other conditions, including some autoimmune diseases, Meniere’s disease, scarlet fever, meningitis, mumps, and measles can also create sensorineural hearing loss.
There is currently no medical means of repairing cilia or the auditory nerve. However, many patients have seen a vast improvement in their ability to hear with the help of cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Both inner and outer ear: Mixed hearing loss
Patients experience mixed hearing loss when a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss occurs. For example, the long-term build-up of earwax may lead to an earlier onset of presbycusis. A traumatic head injury can also cause mixed hearing loss problems.
Treating all types of hearing loss at Sinus Solutions of South Florida
What are the options for hearing loss? The answer to this question depends on the type(s) of hearing loss you’re experiencing and the severity of your condition.
Dr. Napoleon G. Bequer of Sinus Solutions of South Florida is a board-certified ENT who has provided professional and caring hearing loss diagnosis and treatment for over 30 years. He also specializes in providing his patients with doctor-approved hearing aids which are chosen to specifically match the needs of each patient.
For the high-quality treatment of all types of hearing loss, visit the team at Sinus Solution of South Florida at one of our two locations in Tampa or West Palm Beach. For more information or to set up an appointment, visit our online portal or call us at 561-790-7744.