Did you know that there are different kinds of hearing loss? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is the most common type of hearing loss. In particular, age-related sensorineural hearing loss (i.e., presbycusis) is the most common type in adults.
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the hair cells of the middle ear or, less commonly, the auditory nerve. Any sensorineural hearing loss (apart from sudden sensorineural hearing loss) is permanent and cannot be cured. However, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids or, in more profound cases, cochlear implants.
As mentioned, aging is a common cause of SNHL. Other causes include:
In addition to aging, noise exposure is the other leading cause of SNHL. However, a number of possible causes and risk factors exists, including:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Certain medications
- Autoimmune disorders
- Viral infections
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Conditions that can affect blood flow to the ear
How is Conductive Hearing Loss Different?
Conductive hearing loss is different from sensorineural hearing loss in several ways. Firstly, it is caused when sound cannot get through the outer or middle ear and reach the inner ear. This can happen for many reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Earwax buildup
- Middle ear infection
- Narrow or malformed ear canal
- Foreign objects stuck in the ear
- Ruptured or perforated eardrum
- Abnormal growths or tumors in the middle ear
Secondly, depending on the cause, many types of conductive hearing loss can be reversed. Problems like earwax buildup, infections and some forms of abnormal growths can all be treated either with medication, extraction or surgery. Once the cause is treated, your hearing should be restored to normal.
In some cases, such as stenosis of the ear canal, surgical intervention is difficult, and hearing loss, in that case, may become permanent. If so, treatment options like hearing aids and bone-anchored implantable devices can help.
Can You Have Both Types of Hearing Loss?
Yes, you can. When you have both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, it’s referred to as mixed hearing loss. An example of this would include someone with sensorineural hearing loss also developing conductive hearing loss from earwax buildup. In cases of mixed hearing loss, any conductive hearing loss may potentially be reversed.
Visit an Audiologist for Any Changes in Hearing
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, whether at the office or spending time with your family at Spezia Omaha, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. They can perform an ear exam and a hearing test to determine what type of hearing loss you have and decide on the best treatment options to get you back to hearing your best as soon as possible.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Ear Specialists of Omaha & Bellevue today.