Three Types of Hearing Loss

There are three basic types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.  Obviously, a person who has one type of hearing loss could also have another and two people who have the same diagnosis could have two completely different (but somewhat related) experiences.  That said, lets take a look a closer look at these three basic types.


Most people who experienced hearing loss have this type.  This type of hearing loss is classified by a malfunction or problem with the sensory and neural structures (the hairs and nerves) of the inner ear (cochlea). Normally, the neural structures vibrate from sound waves and release chemical messages that stimulate the auditory nerve (which translate the sound in the brain).

Damage of the hairs or nerves results in a loss of intensity of all sound.  Thus, in sensorineural hearing loss, a person might experience distortion of sound or cannot distinguish a sound that is too quite. Typically people with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble hearing words clearly, particularly certain spoken consonants and particularly within noisier environments.

This type of hearing loss cannot be reversed, but can be assisted through hearing ads.

Potential causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • [prolonged exposure to] loud noises
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Head trauma
  • Certain illnesses
  • Structural inner ear malformations


Conductive hearing loss comes as a result of something mechanical. Mainly, this occurs when something physical or disease-related obstructs the necessary delivery of sound from the outer and middle ear to the inner ear (where the nerves are stimulated by vibration, of course, registering sound in the brain).

The good news is that this is less common and can be treated.  Audiologie Centre-Ouest medical treatment can involve, simply, removing the obstruction, though that could involve surgery. Still, many with conductive hearing loss find a hearing aid is helpful.

Potential causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Ear infections
  • Foreign objects lodged in the ear
  • Wax buildup
  • Tumors (rare)
  • Fluid build up
  • Ruptured eardrum


Finally, a person who has experienced a loss in the quality of hearing might also have a mixture of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss.  This means that there is damage to the ear’s listening mechanism as well as an obstruction.  Obviously, then, treatment can be effective but is probably not reversible. The quality of hearing after treatment and severity of listening assistance a person requires will be based on the ratio of sensorineural hearing loss to conductive hearing loss and how successful the treatment is.