This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the ear that help transmit sound to your brain. These can bend or break due to:
The effects are almost always the same – it becomes harder to distinguish speech from noise, certain high-pitched sounds such as birdsong disappear altogether, people seem to be mumbling and you often have to ask them to repeat themselves.
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and can’t be corrected medically, but a hearing aid can almost always help.
This is caused by any blockage that prevents sound reaching the inner ear. This might include:
Conductive hearing loss is not necessarily permanent and can often be corrected medically or surgically.
Arts HA. Sensorineural hearing loss in adults. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 149.