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WHEN HEARING LOSS HAPPENS

CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS

Conductive hearing loss occurs when something disrupts the conduction of sound through the outer ear or middle ear. Some examples of what causes this are build-up or obstruction of the ear canal, a hole in the eardrum, and/or middle ear infection with fluid buildup behind the eardrum. Conductive hearing loss can range from mild to moderate in severity but can often be treated medically, and in many cases can be cured entirely.

SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS

Hearing loss originating from the inner ear is called sensorineural loss or “nerve loss”. About 90% of hearing losses are sensorineural, most commonly caused by damage to the inner hair cells within the cochlea. Once they are damaged, the hair cells cannot regenerate. While sensorineural hearing loss most commonly due to genetic factors, excessive noise exposure, or changes in the inner ear due to the natural aging process, some other causes include: medications, tumors, infections, diabetes, kidney diseases, or cardiovascular disease.

MIXED HEARING LOSS

When a hearing loss is because of conditions in the inner ear as well as the outer and/or middle ear, it is referred to as ‘mixed’ hearing loss due to the combination of conductive and sensorineural loss. An example of a mixed hearing loss may be someone with inner ear hair cell damage that at the same time has an ear infection which is stopping the eardrum from vibrating normally. The conductive portion of a mixed hearing loss can often be medically treated, but even after successful treatment, the underlying sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and may warrant a hearing aid.