More than 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss. Hearing loss type refers to the portion of the hearing system that has been damaged. The three types of loss are conductive, sensorineural and mixed.

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is blockage or damage to the ear canal, eardrum or the tiny bones in the middle ear. This damage stops the ear from conducting hearing. This type of loss may be reversible through surgery or medication. Possible causes include ear infection, allergies, impacted earwax, perforated eardrum, foreign objects in the ear and bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis).

Sensorineural hearing loss is damage to the inner ear that senses sound, and accounts for 90 percent of loss cases. This loss is permanent and cannot be corrected, but hearing aids and other amplification devices prove beneficial to a majority of patients. Causes include aging, noise exposure, viral infections, accident or injury, autoimmune disorders, Meniere’s disease, malformations of the inner ear and benign tumors.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss. Treatment depends on the severity of the loss and its precise cause. In some cases, it may be partially correctable with medication or surgery if the cause of loss is conductive.

Hearing loss can be unilateral (affecting one ear) or bilateral (occurring in both ears). Patients with unilateral hearing loss experience normal hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other. They also have trouble localizing sounds. Bilateral hearing loss is mostly tied to sensorineural loss and usually requires treatment with hearing aids or other amplification devices.

If you or someone you care for is experiencing hearing problems, please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4320 to schedule an appointment.