The Three Categories of Hearing Loss: Conductive, Sensorineural, and Mixed

 
The type of hearing loss you have will determine the course of treatment. Not all hearing loss is treated with hearing aids. If you experience a sudden loss of hearing in one or both ears, you need to seek immediate treatment with one of our ear, nose, and throat physicians. Sudden hearing loss may be restored if treated promptly. Conductive issues typically treated first. They can result from any cause related to sensorineural or conductive hearing loss.
 

Conductive Hearing Loss

  • Related to the outer or middle ear
  • Often causes mild to moderate hearing loss
  • Hearing loss is typically temporary
  • Usually treated with medication or minor surgery
  • Typically involves a “plugged-up” feeling

 

Causes commonly include:
  • Fluid or earwax buildup
  • Ear infection
  • Allergies
  • Undetectable foreign objects
  • Eustachian tube issues
  • Developmental malformations
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Irregular bone growth (otosclerosis)

 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

  • Related to the inner ear (cochlea)
  • Most common type of hearing loss
  • Causes mild to profound hearing impairment
  • Effects are typically permanent
  • May show as SSHL (single-sided hearing loss) or asymmetric hearing loss (greater loss in one ear than the other)
  • Typically treated with hearing aids

 

Causes commonly include:
  • Aging
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Viral infections
  • Diseases
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Injury or trauma
  • Developmental malformations
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Acoustic neuromas

 

Mixed Hearing Loss

  • Related to problems in inner ear and outer or middle ear
  • Least common type of hearing loss
  • Causes mild to profound hearing impairment
  • Effects are usually permanent
  • Treated with hearing aids, medication and/or surgery

 

Conductive issues typically treated first
  • Can result from any cause related to sensorineural or conductive hearing loss