Conductive hearing loss occurs in the outer and middle ear, when the transmission of sound vibrations is prevented from reaching the inner ear. This can happen due to wax build-up, fluid behind the eardrum, or a hole in the eardrum. Conductive hearing loss can often be corrected medically, or surgically.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear, or along the nerve pathways that run from the inner ear to the brain. In a healthy ear, sound travels through the ear canal, and is then processed by the inner ear before passing to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear is unable to process or send sound vibrations to the brain, due to damaged hair cells. Although medical or surgical correction is usually ineffective, hearing aids can mitigate the effects of sensorineural hearing loss, which is usually caused by exposure to loud noise, genetics, natural aging or medications. See the video to learn more.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which means there is damage in both the middle ear, and inner ear. Mixed hearing loss occurs when the middle and inner ear, are unable to process or send sound vibrations to the brain. For people with mixed hearing loss, sounds can be both softer in volume, and more difficult to understand. Depending on the degree and make-up of the mixed hearing loss, it may be treated with medications, surgery, hearing aids, or an implantable bone conduction hearing system.
Dr. Cliff Olson, AuD produces relatable and understandable videos for the hearing industry. In the following video, Dr. Olson discusses the three types of hearing loss, and what causes them.
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