What are the different types of hearing loss?
There are two main types - conductive or sensorineural. Some people have both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, known as mixed hearing loss.
There are also different degrees of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound.
- Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is due to a mechanical blockage or failure preventing sound vibrations from passing freely through the outer or middle ear. For example, sound will not be passed to the cochlea properly if the eardrum or middle ear bones are damaged, or if there is a build-up of wax in the ear canal.
- Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. These cells cannot be repaired or replaced. Another cause of sensorineural hearing loss is damage to the auditory nerve, though this happens very rarely. The only solution to help people with sensorineural hearing loss is the use of hearing aids.
One possible effect of sensorineural hearing loss is 'recruitment'. This means that you find it difficult to hear quiet sounds, yet find loud sounds uncomfortable. Hearing aids can be programmed to prevent uncomfortably loud sounds from entering your ears.