Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

  • means that sound is not conducted properly to the inner ear
  • problem is in external (outer) or middle ear
  • causes:
    • wax (cerumen)
    • fluid
    • damage to the ear drum
    • infection of the tissue lining the middle ear
    • malformation of the middle ear
    • birth defects
  • often sounds are muffled and vowel sounds are hard to hear
  • usually lower frequencies are affected
  • most types of conductive hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

  • often called ‘nerve deafness’
  • most common type of hearing loss
  • problem is in the inner ear (hair cells or nerve fibers)
  • causes:
    • pre-natal infections
    • lack of oxygen at birth
    • birth defects
    • head injuries
    • some medications
    • illnesses accompanied by high fever
    • exposure to loud noise
    • long-term exposure to noise
    • genetic factors
  • often will have trouble understanding speech and distinguishing consonant sounds
  • usually higher frequencies
  • most types of sensorineural hearing loss CANNOT be cured medically or surgically
  • hearing aids and other forms of amplification can HELP children hear and develop language and speech

Mixed Hearing Loss

  • combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss
  • children with sensorineural can also develop a middle ear problem such as fluid (ear infection)
  • this usually makes the child’s hearing loss even worse

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