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The Three Types of Hearing Loss.

There are three different types of hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. The type of hearing loss you have depends on what part of your hearing system is affected.

To understand the different types of hearing loss it’s useful to have an idea of how the ear works.

How Do We Hear?

Ear Anatomy

Ear Anatomy

The pinna collects sound and sends it down the ear canal. This sound sends a vibration through our eardrum and ossicles, the small bones that connect the eardrum to the hearing organ, the cochlea. When sound enters the cochlea it is detected by thousands of cells, which send the sound through the auditory nerve and into the hearing centre of the brain.

The ear canal is often referred to as the “Outer Ear”, the eardrum and ossicles as the “Middle Ear” and the cochlea and auditory nerve, the “Inner Ear”.

Conductive Hearing Loss:

Conductive hearing loss results from a problem in the outer or middle ear that interferes with the transfer of sound to the cochlea. Conductive hearing loss can result from:

  • Earwax or a foreign object blocking the ear canal.
  • A hole in the eardrum.
  • Fluid behind the eardrum, often caused by a cold.
  • Ear infection.
  • Dislocation or stiffening of the ossicles.
  • A deformity of the ear.

Conductive hearing loss can often be corrected with medical intervention.

Sensorineural hearing loss:

Sensorineural hearing loss results from a problem in the cochlea or auditory nerve and is the most common type of hearing loss. Causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • Exposure to dangerous levels of noise.
  • Exposure to chemicals or medications that are toxic to the hearing system.
  • Certain illnesses.
  • Disturbance to the fluid inside the cochlea.
  • Genetic conditions.
  • Disturbance in blood supply to the ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss is typically permanent and assisted by the use of hearing aids.

Mixed Hearing Loss:

Mixed hearing loss results from a problem in both the outer / middle ear and inner ear. Often a mixed hearing loss results from a combination of any of the above causes of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

If you suspect any hearing loss it is always recommended to seek medical advice from your GP or an Audiologist who can perform various tests to determine the type of hearing loss you have. If you would like to book an appointment with one of our Audiologists at Hearing Sense please call 8331 8047.

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