Types of Hearing Loss: Sensorineural vs. Conductive

Types of Hearing Loss: Sensorineural vs. Conductive

Sensorineural hearing loss

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:

  • Exposure to very loud noises
  • Genetic disposition
  • Virus infections in the inner ear
  • Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
  • Head injury
  • Age

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.

Conductive hearing loss

This is caused by any blockage that prevents sound reaching the inner ear. This might include:

  • A build-up of earwax
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Unusual bone growth in the middle ear
  • Middle ear infections
  • Small holes in the eardrum

Conductive hearing loss is not necessarily permanent and can often be corrected medically or surgically. 

References
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.

http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/hearing-aids/binaural-advantage
http://www.hearingaidhelp.com/hearing-loss.html
http://www.gnresound.com/your-hearing/about-hearing-loss/types-and-causes-of-hearing-loss

 
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