Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is the result of sounds not being able to pass freely to the inner ear.
This can result from:
- a build-up of excess ear wax
- fluid from an ear infection (especially common in children)
- some abnormality in the structure of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear
- a ruptured (perforated) eardrum
- a condition known as otosclerosis which is the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear preventing the auditory bones (ossicles) from moving freely.
Sensorineural hearing loss
A sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage to the hair cells within the cochlea or the hearing nerve (or both). Once the cochlea hair cells become damaged, they will remain damaged for the rest of a person’s life.
It can occur naturally as part of the ageing process or as a result of:
- Regular and prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
- Ototoxic drugs – some medicines are harmful to the cochlea and/or hearing nerve. These include drugs that are used in the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer but also include certain types of antibiotics. Your GP will talk you through any ototoxic association with your current medication.
- Certain infectious diseases, including Rubella
- Complications at birth
- Injury to the head
- Benign tumours on the auditory nerve - although rare, these can cause hearing loss
- Genetic predisposition – some people are especially prone to hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss changes our ability to hear quiet sounds, as well as reducing the quality of the sound, meaning individuals will often struggle to understand speech.
Mixed Hearing Loss
It is possible to have both types present at the same time – something called a ‘mixed’ hearing loss. More rarely, hearing loss can result from damage to the auditory part of the brain.
A hearing aid can sometimes prove to be beneficial in helping with symptoms of hearing loss. To learn more about how you can be assessed for hearing aid suitability see our Testing and Diagnosis page.