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Conductive & Sensorineural: The Types of Hearing Loss

by Jeff Reynolds

There are many different causes for hearing loss, and those experiencing it will encounter it as many different ways — but regardless of how it begins or progresses, it can be categorised into one of three broad 'types' of hearing loss. A hearing test can help to diagnose any of these and may help you to identify whether or not you're experiencing a problem. Here's a run-down of what each type consists of to give you an idea.


This type of hearing loss stems from a blockage or obstruction that prevents sound from conducting properly through your ear. It need not be a physical barrier or alien object; the obstruction can also be damage to the ear canal. Most conductive hearing loss is very treatable. If the obstruction can be cleared or removed, the problem will desist. This may sometimes involve surgery. However, if the problem is structural damage, then there is a chance it is not repairable. Conductive hearing loss can be painful, and you may feel pressure inside your ear. Other symptoms include a change in how you hear your own voice and an ability to hear more out of one ear than the other.


This type of hearing loss is often considered 'more serious', because it requires sensory problems or damage. Unfortunately, these are not curable. As such, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent. It can occur as a symptom of other conditions, such as meningitis or cancerous growths; however, it can also occur from spending a lot of time around loud noise, or simply from advancing in age. However, even though this type of hearing loss is permanent, it can still be helped by the use of hearing aids and other such solutions. Sensorineural loss is generally painless. You are most likely to experience it as a dullness of sound or a difficulty hearing specific, softer sounds. You may also feel dizzy, as internal balance is greatly affected by your ears.


It is possible for a person to experience elements of both conductive and sensorineural hearling loss at once. This may be more difficult to diagnose, as patients will present with symptoms of both — but experts will be able to develop a plan to help you recover your hearing where possible and to find alternate solutions if necessary.

If you do feel you're experiencing problems with your hearing, don't feel that you have to know exactly what's wrong to visit a doctor or have a hearing test. Just take note of what you're experiencing and how it's affecting you, and book a hearing test appointment. The specialists will be able to help you from there.