types of hearing loss

Conductive Hearing Loss is caused by any condition or disease that affects the outer or middle ear, and causes a decrease in hearing. Examples of conductive hearing loss include earwax impaction, otitis media, ear drum perforation, and otosclerosis. Generally, conductive hearing loss is temporary and can be treated. 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss results from inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction. It is typically irreversible and permanent. Examples of sensorineural hearing loss include presbycusis, excessive noise damage, ototoxicity, and genetics. Typically, the treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through hearing aids. 

Mixed Hearing Loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. 

The main causes of hearing loss include:

  • Aging (presbycusis)
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Infections (otitis media)
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Genetics
  • Birth defects
  • Ototoxic reaction to medication

How severe is your hearing loss?

That depends on which levels of sound you can hear. Your hearing professional will chart these levels on an audiogram in order to determine your degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is generally classified in seven degrees, which are normal, slight, mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe and profound.

Your hearing may be limited to one ear or affect both. There are four configurations of hearing loss that you could be experiencing.

  1. Bilateral vs. unilateral – Bilateral involves hearing loss in both ears while unilateral hearing loss is only in one ear.

  2. Symmetrical vs. asymmetrical – Symmetrical means that your level and type of hearing loss is the same in both ears. Asymmetrical means that your ears have different types or levels of hearing loss.

  3.  Progressive vs. sudden hearing loss – Progressive hearing loss gets worse over time, while sudden hearing loss happens spontaneously much like after being exposed to a very loud noise. See a medical professional immediately if you think you may have sudden hearing loss.

  4. Fluctuating vs. stable hearing loss – Fluctuating hearing loss can get better or worse over time while stable hearing loss will stay the same.