Types of Hearing Loss

Types of Hearing Loss

Common Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is not just an affliction of the elderly; it can occur at any age, for a number of reasons. While noise exposure and normal aging are the most common causes, hearing loss can also occur as a result of an ear infection, head injury, perforated eardrum, cancer treatments, certain medications, infection during gestation, and genetics/hereditary factors.

types of hearing loss - san francisco audiology

When hearing is diminished, we have to focus more intently on what is being said in order to understand and process the sounds around us. This is a tiring process requiring much more mental energy just to keep up. Often, we start “switching off” from the world without even realizing it. Understanding the root cause of your hearing loss is a crucial first step toward coming up with a solution.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three general types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive
  • Sensorineural
  • Mixed

Conductive hearing loss occurs when outer and middle ear problems prevent sounds from reaching the inner ear. It can be associated with earwax buildup and abnormal growths, and is often temporary or curable. Wax can be flushed out, and surgery is usually an option for removal of growths or blockages.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the nerve fibers in the inner ear, preventing the transmission of information to the brain. It is the most common type of hearing loss, and may be caused by noise exposure, viruses and diseases, tumors, and hereditary factors. Sensorineural hearing loss is often successfully treated with hearing aids or assistive living devices.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both types.