Hearing Loss Types


Once your hearing has been tested, you’re hearing healthcare provider will probably categorize your loss by its “hearing loss type”. This categorization is based on the location of the cause of the hearing impairment. There are 3 main types of hearing impairment: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.

Conductive hearing loss is typified by defect, dysfunction, or damage of the outer ear, middle ear, or any combination of the two. This includes the visible portions of the outer ear, the external ear canal, the tympanic membrane (ear drum), and the middle ear located behind the tympanic membrane where the small vibratory bones (osseous chain) are located. These bones are commonly called the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). hearingaid – guide

For those with conductive hearing loss, the volume of sound will be a principal issue. Incoming sounds may seem to be dull, muffled, diminished, or softer than normal. Many patients complain of having plugged, full, or stopped up ears.

Sensorineural hearing loss is typified by defect, dysfunction, or damage of the inner ear (cochlea), hearing nerve, or any combination of the two. This type of hearing impairment may also be called: sensory loss, inner ear loss, cochlear hearing impairment, nerve deafness or nerve loss. https://supremehealthtips.com

Sensorineural hearing impairment is common in the older population and in people at risk for excessive noise exposure. Comprehension and understanding will most often be the principal issue for those suffering with sensorineural loss. Patients commonly complain that others are mumbling, speaking unclear, and/or talking too rapidly. Most patients will say that they can ‘hear’, but that they do not understand.

Mixed loss of hearing is typified by defect, dysfunction, or damage in a combination of the areas where conductive and sensorineural hearing loss occurs. Therefore, this hearing impairment occurs in not only the outer and/or middle ear but also the inner ear and/or hearing nerve. Loudness and comprehension/understanding will be an issue for those with mixed hearing impairment. Any combination of symptoms of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss can be expected.

There are two other uncommon categories of loss, including: functional and central hearing impairment. Functional hearing loss is not an actual hearing impairment at all.

With a functional loss, normal hearing is present, but a loss is perceived or created. The seemingly apparent hearing impairment is not due to any physical damage or defect, but rather to a psychological, social, or emotional problem or disorder.

Testing is available to decide if functional hearing loss is present. Central hearing loss is also not a standard hearing loss, but it is due to dysfunction in the central processing areas. While the peripheral hearing system is functioning normally, processing of sound is damaged at the level of the brain. Symptoms of central loss may be like sensorineural loss.

Ask you hearing healthcare professional to thoroughly describe your hearing loss type and its implications, so that you can make good decisions on treatment and management!

Robin Hardin has more than 30 years of professional experience in audiology. She has served as director of Audiology at both the Atlanta Ear Clinic and Northeast Georgia ENT. She also has taught in the University of Georgia’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is a member the American Academy of Audiology, the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Georgia Academy of Audiology and the Georgia Speech Language Hearing Association. She received the Clinical Achievement Award for the State of Georgia from the American Speech Language Hearing Foundation in 1987. In addition to presenting research to peer organizations, Hardin also serves on the Oconee County Warrior Foundation Board and is a member/sustainer of the Junior League of Athens. She and her husband live in Oconee County, and their son attends the University of Georgia.


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