Conductive vs. Sensorineural Hearing Loss: What You Should Know
With an estimated 48 million people in the United States dealing with hearing loss, it’s more than likely that you or someone you know is living with this challenging condition. Even if you’re not experiencing it now, you may in the future. Knowing what types of hearing loss there are, how they are caused, and how they might be treated can make navigating hearing loss a much easier process.
There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and a combination of the two, or mixed. All of these can range in severity and can present with similar symptoms. They differ in the part of the ear affected, their causes, and how they’re treated.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss occurs when something, whether it’s damage or a blockage, is preventing sound waves from moving past the outer or middle part of the ear. Conductive hearing loss can have several causes including:
- A foreign object
- A head injury
- Ear infections
- Fluid in the middle ear
- A structural abnormality
Children may commonly experience this type of hearing loss due to putting objects in their ears, or frequent ear infections.
Conductive hearing loss can have a variety of treatments depending on what caused it in the first place. It’s possible to even have this type of hearing loss reversed. Your conductive hearing loss may be treated with medication, procedures, or with hearing aids.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss typically happens when the inner ear is damaged. This is the most common type of hearing loss and has a variety of potential causes including:
- Genetic conditions
- A head injury
- Some illnesses
- Certain medications
- Loud noises or explosions
Even though it’s more common than conductive, sensorineural can be harder to treat and usually isn’t reversible. Many individuals who have this kind of hearing loss are candidates for hearing aids though, which can provide a level of relief.
Mixed Hearing Loss
It is possible for conductive and sensorineural hearing loss to occur at the same time. In this case, it’s referred to as “mixed hearing loss.” Mixed hearing loss may be caused by one issue affecting multiple parts of the ear, or there may be multiple health issues occurring. The same treatments that work for conductive and sensorineural hearing loss might be applied to this type.
No matter what the type hearing loss you or your loved one are experiencing, seeking help can greatly alleviate some of the stress that goes along with the condition. If you feel like you’re experiencing hearing loss, please contact us for a test to determine if you could be helped by a hearing aid.