Hearing Loss

Types Of Hearing Loss

Types of Hearing Loss

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There are many possible causes of hearing loss. These can be divided into two basic types, called conductive and sensorineural
hearing loss. A third type is called mixed hearing loss and can be a combination of the other two types.

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Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss is caused by anything that interferes with the transmission of sound from the outer to the inner ear.
Possible causes include:

  • Middle ear infections (otitis media)
  • Collection of fluid in the middle ear ("glue ear" in children)
  • Blockage of the outer ear (by wax)
  • Damage to the eardrum by infection or an injury
  • Damage to the bones (ossicles) of the middle ear due to injury
  • Otosclerosis, a condition in which the ossicles of the middle ear become immobile because of growth
    of the surrounding bone
  • Rarely, rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints between the ossicles

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sensorineural hearing loss

is due to damage to the hair cells in the inner ear and/or to the pathway for sound impulses from the hair cells to the auditory nerve and the brain.
Possible causes include:

  • Age-related hearing loss - the decline in hearing that many people experience as they get older
  • Acoustic trauma (injury caused by loud noise) to the hair cells
  • Head trauma
  • Viral infections of the inner ear (may be caused by viruses such as mumps or measles)
  • Ménière's disease, which involves abnormal pressure in the inner ear
  • Certain drugs, such as high doses of aspirin, quinine and some rarely used antibiotics, which can affect the hair cells
  • Acoustic neuroma, a benign (non-cancerous) tumour affecting the auditory nerve
  • Viral infections of the auditory nerve such as mumps and rubella
  • Infections or inflammation of the brain or brain covering, e.g. meningitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Brain tumour
  • Stroke
  • Other conditions such as diabetes, untreated high blood pressure, thyroid problems and many more.

Hearing loss can be congenital or acquired. A congenital hearing loss is when the hearing loss occurs before or just after birth. Exposure to certain diseases in utero or soon after birth can harm the hearing mechanism of a baby. Acquired hearing loss happens at a later stage and can be due to factors such as disease, noise or trauma to the head.