Common Causes of Hearing Loss

When your hearing starts to go, it can be a difficult experience. Confusion and fear aren’t uncommon. There are two main kinds of hearing loss with different causes and treatment.

Conductive hearing loss

When you hear a sound, it’s because the sound waves travel through the air through the outer, middle, and then inner ears. Conductive hearing loss occurs when conditions block sound from transmitting through the outer or middle ear.
When the transmissions of sound are hindered, then they reach the cochlea (located in the inner ear) at a much lower intensity. This makes sounds harder to recognize and distinguish.

Causes of conductive hearing loss

There are many possible causes of conductive hearing loss. It is hard to predict because it can occur in people of any age and its onset can occur quickly or slowly. Among the most common causes of conductive hearing loss are the following conditions:

  • Otitis media – the inflammation of the middle ear, generally resulting from fluid buildup
  • Otosclerosis – the calcification of the bones located in the middle ear
  • Cholesteotoma – a growth located on epithelium, usually caused by repeated infection
  • A tear in the tympanic membrane caused by injury, infection, or blockage

Treatment for conductive hearing loss

Although it depends on the seriousness of your hearing loss, medical treatment can improve conductive hearing loss for most individuals. Medication or surgery often stops or lessens hearing loss. Sometimes, hearing can even be restored completely.
If medication or surgery isn’t effective, hearing devices will usually do the trick.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs from the inside. Commonly referred to as “nerve deafness,” sufferers begin to lose their hearing when the hearing nerve in the inner ear becomes damaged. More common than conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss usually lasts forever.
The experience for sufferers is usually a very gradual one. Patients don’t often recognize that their hearing is worse for years. Both clarity and intensity may begin to diminish. Eventually, sufferers are likely to complain that loud sounds and background sounds are particularly troublesome.

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Heredity
  • Birth defects
  • Repeated infections
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Ototoxic medication
  • Presbycusis (caused by aging)

Exposure to loud noises is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Concerts, machinery, explosions, and other loud noises can seriously damage the inner ear. Hearing protection can help prevent this damage.

Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss

The only way to treat sensorineural hearing loss is by sound amplification. Devices like hearing aids can amplify sound and thereby improve hearing.

Mixed hearing loss

From time to time, both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss can occur at the same time. When this happens, it means that there are problems in both the inner and outer ears. Physicians refer to this as “mixed hearing loss.”

Suffering from hearing loss?

If you’ve noticed that sounds aren’t as loud or as clear as they used to be, you may be suffering from hearing loss. Contact our office now to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians. They can diagnose your hearing loss and recommend possible treatments.