There are three main types of hearing loss which are related to the specific part of the hearing system where the damage has occurred.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common type of hearing loss. It can also be called ‘nerve deafness’ or ‘perceptive loss’.
It occurs when the delicate structures of the inner ear or cochlear and/or its associated nerves are damaged. It is usually permanent and can affect sound clarity and amplification where voices may sound like mumbles or are distorted. This can be solved with a hearing device such as a hearing aid.
The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- Prolonged exposure to loud noise
- Age-related changes
- Illnesses such as meningitis, measles, mumps and Menieres disease
Conductive Hearing Loss
This occurs when damage occurs to the outer or middle ear. Problems in these areas usually relate to a mechanical disruption of the pathway of sound through to the inner ear.
This causes a perceived decrease in loudness of noise to the sufferer and can often be treated with surgery, other forms of medical management or a hearing aid.
The most common causes of conductive outer ear canal hearing loss include:
- Blockage by ear wax, or foreign objects
- Ear canal infection or ‘swimmers ear’
- Bony growths in the canal known as exostoses or ‘surfers ear’
The most common causes of conductive middle ear hearing loss include:
- Middle ear infection or ‘glue ear’ (a build-up of fluid) – most common in children
- Perforated eardrum that does not heal
- Damage to the tiny bones that conduct sound, for example, Otosclerosis
- Benign growth in the middle ear, known as Cholesteatoma
Mixed Hearing Loss
This is when damage has occurred to both the middle ear and inner ear system. This can happen when there are multiple conditions co-existing or in cases of Otosclerosis.
Otosclerosis is when there is damage to the tiny bones that conduct sound within the ear canal.
If you think you or a loved one may have a hearing loss our advice would be to get a free hearing checked.