Conductive vs. Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss are two common types of hearing loss. Let’s discuss what each of these terms mean.

Conductive hearing loss is the loss of sound due to problems located in either the middle ear or the outer ear. The Better Hearing Institute explains, “conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that impedes the conveyance of sound in its mechanical form through the middle ear cavity to the inner ear.” This could be a blockage due to ear wax build up, excess fluid due to an illness or perforation of the eardrum. Sound becomes muted, but once the sound is conveyed loud enough the ear typically works as normal and the hearing difficulty is overcome. Conductive hearing loss can be identified and medically treated.

Sensorineural hearing loss, as the name suggests, has to do with hearing loss caused by an issue with the nerves and pathways between the inner ear and the brain. In this case, louder sound does not make the ear function normally, in fact, louder noises often result in the sound being distorted making it even harder to process. Sensorineural hearing loss has several causes:

Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be cured because the damage is typically permanent. But, hearing can be improved with the use of hearing aids.

Finally, sometimes patients have both a mix of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Regardless of the type of hearing loss, if you are experiencing diminishing hearing or if sounds seem muted and conversations become harder, you should contact a hearing care professional. A hearing care professional is trained to evaluate your problem from all angles and will help you determine the right course of treatment.