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Types of Hearing Loss

Although there are many types of hearing loss, the two most common types are SENSORINEURAL (also called “cochlear” or “inner ear” or “nerve loss”) and CONDUCTIVE. Other types of hearing loss include mixed and central.


Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. More than 90 percent of all hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are; age-related changes, noise exposure, inner ear blood circulation, inner ear fluid disturbances and problems with the hearing nerve. When the problem is in the inner ear, a sensorineural hearing loss occurs. 


Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the ear canal, eardrum or the tiny bones of the middle ear, resulting in a reduction of loudness of sound. Conductive loss may result from earwax blocking the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstructions in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum or disease of any of the three middle ear bones.

People with conductive hearing loss may notice their ears seem to be full or plugged.  This person may speak softly because they hear their own voice loudly. Crunchy foods, such as celery or carrots, seem very loud to the person with a conductive hearing loss and this person may have to stop chewing to hear what is being said.  All conductive hearing losses should be evaluated by an audiologist and a physician to explore medical and surgical options.

To demonstrate a conductive hearing loss, gently close your ears with your fingers. This will give you the feeling of a conductive hearing loss… you’ll feel plugged-up, and you’ll feel a little hearing impaired.  Interestingly, some people may tell you they don’t need hearing aids because they ONLY have a 30-decibel hearing loss.  However, assuming you have normal hearing, when you plug your ears with your fingers, you will experience approximately a 25-decibel hearing loss—and you’ll quickly realize that even a VERY MILD hearing loss is quite irritating and disconcerting!



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