The Basic Types of Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the auditory system. Damage to the ears can happen at any age, and can be caused by a variety of factors. However, to help determine the severity and types of hearing loss, a comprehensive audiological evaluation must be completed by a doctor. For hearing loss to be successfully managed, the kind of hearing impairment must be determined. Luckily, some types can be treated successfully with surgery or medicine.

When hearing loss occurs, it is categorized by which part the auditory system is affected. To help you better understand the different kinds of hearing loss, here are the differing causes and symptoms of the basic types of hearing loss.

1. Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Central auditory processing disorder occurs when the parts of the brain are affected by a tumor, disease, injury, or from an unknown cause. When this happens, it affects the parts of the brain that interprets sound. Often, this will result in a reduced capacity to localize sound, and recognize auditory patterns.


• Hypersensitive to noise

• Often mishearing or misunderstanding what others say

• Often asks for information to be repeated

• Poor speech recognition

• Poor listening skills

• Reduced comfort levels for listening

• Easily distracted by background noise

• Poor language skills

• Problems with spelling and reading

• Deficit phonics skills

• Has difficulty explaining thoughts and ideas

2. Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem in the middle or outer ear. Conductive hearing loss often occurs from damage or obstruction to the eardrum, ear canal, or to the middle ear and its bones. This prevents sound waves from reaching the cochlea. Conductive hearing loss can be a temporary or a permanent condition, and can often be treated with surgery or medicine.


• Your voice sounds different or louder

• You experience a sensation of pressure in one or both ears

• You experience pain in one or both of the ears

• You have a hard time making out a conversation on the phone

• You can hear better in one ear than the other

• You have a smell emanating from your ear(s)

Common Causes:

• Tumors (benign)

• Malfunction of Eustachian tube

• Swimmer’s ear

• Otosclerosis

• Stenosis

• Fluid build-up

• Compacted ear wax (cerumen impaction)

• Excessive ear wax production

• Ear injury

• Blockage from a foreign object

• Infection

• Tympanosclerosis

• Perforated or ruptured eardrum

• Exostoses

• Abnormality of ear structure(s)

• Allergies

• Ossicular chain discontinuity

3. Sensorineural (Perceptive) Hearing Loss (SNHL)

Perceptive or sensorineural hearing loss is considered to be the most common form of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss often occurs from a problem with the inner ear or from damage to the hair cells or auditory nerves that are inside of the cochlea. This type of hearing loss is often not surgically or medically treatable.


• Tinnitus

• Difficulty deciphering conversations

• Difficulty hearing high-pitched voices and noises

• Sounds become quieter or louder

• Feeling off balance (dizzy)

• Everyone sounds like they are mumbling or slurring

• Particular speech sounds are harder to hear

• Difficulty hearing and listening in environments that is noisy

Common Causes:

• Head trauma

• Injury

• Autoimmune diseases

• Blood vessel diseases

• Changes in air pressure

• Birth complications

• Aging

• Inner ear deformity

• Smoking

• Otosclerosis

• Loud noise exposure

• Infectious disease or virus

• Prescription medication

• Tumors

• Meniere’s disease

• Genetically predisposed

4. Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss conditions. The causes and symptoms of this condition are a mixture of the causes and symptoms listed above.

If you believe you are suffering from hearing loss in NYC, talk to your doctor. A trained professional can help determine the type of hearing loss and find the right course of action for both you and your ears.

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