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Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur at any age. It may be caused by many different factors and is categorized by the part of the auditory system that is damaged. Please review “How We Hear” prior to reading this section. It is important to understand the basic anatomy of the ear prior to trying to understand the types of hearing loss. The three basic hearing loss types are: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss involves damage to the inner ear, the cochlea, or to the actual auditory nerve pathways to the brain. It is the most common type of hearing loss, involving about 90% of all people with hearing impairment. This type of loss is often called “nerve deafness” though most causes of hearing loss involve the inner ear and not the hearing nerve. This type of hearing loss is usually not medically or surgically treatable. Most people will benefit from the use of hearing aids with a sensorineural hearing loss and some individuals, with very severe hearing loss, may be helped by a cochlear implant.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss involves damage to the outer ear or the middle ear. This type of loss involves a reduction in the volume of sound that is transferred to the inner ear. Conductive loss is often treatable medically or surgically. Common causes of conductive hearing loss are fluid blockage in the middle ear or wax obstructing the ear canal. This is the most common type of hearing loss for children.

Mixed Hearing Loss

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

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