• Conductive vs. Sensorineural Hearing Loss

    December 29, 2020

    Hearing loss is a serious issue affecting approximately 48 million people in America, and nearly one in three people age 65+. Not only does hearing impairment impinge on our ability to communicate, but it also has negative implications on social life, employment, and even mental health.  If you, or someone you know, suffers from a recent decline in hearing, it is crucial to immediately diagnose the type of hearing loss to figure out the most appropriate treatment.  The main two types of hearing loss are conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.  Below is a detailed description of both.

    Sensorineural Hearing Loss

    The most common of the two, sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent form of impairment caused by damage to tiny hairs in the inner ear or injury to the auditory nerve.  This type of hearing loss often reduces sensitivity to soft sounds and distorts foreground noise from background noise.  Audiologists frequently have difficulty diagnosing the source of sensorineural hearing loss because it can be caused by numerous different factors, including the following:

    • Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis)
    • Loud Noise
    • Infections
    • Cancerous Growths
    • Drug side effects
    • Diabetes
    • Genetics
    • Complications at Birth
    • Abrupt changes in air pressure
    • Head trauma

    As mentioned above, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, and thus there are no viable treatment options.  Unilateral hearing loss occurs when only one ear is affected, while asymmetrical hearing loss affects both ears. Depending on the type you have, hearing aids in one or both ears is the best option to improve sensorineural hearing loss.

    Conductive Hearing Loss

    Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot pass through the outer and middle ear, causing softer sounds to be difficult to hear and louder sounds to come across muffled.  Conductive hearing loss is often not permanent and is typically curable by medicine or surgery.  Common causes of conductive hearing loss include the following:

    • Fluid in the middle ear
    • Ear infections
    • A hole in the eardrum
    • Earwax
    • Allergies
    • Otitis externa
    • Stenosis – Narrowing of the inner eardrum
    • Otitis externa (swimmers ear)

    Treatment options vary depending on the cause of conductive hearing loss, including removing ear wax, specialized medical procedures, and, in some cases, antibiotics.  In cases of abnormalities such as stenosis, treatment options may not be available, and hearing aids may be the most viable option.

    Article written by Alex Milzer.  If you or a loved one is in search of senior care, please visit Senior Directory.

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