The Different Types of Hearing Loss

Not all types of hearing loss are the same. In fact, there are four different types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive
  • Sensorineural
  • Mixed
  • Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)

Each type is characterized by its causes and level of hearing loss. CaptionCall aims to help you understand each type of hearing loss, what causes it, potential treatment options, and what to do if you are experiencing any type of hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss happens when sound waves cannot efficiently travel from the outer ear canal to the eardrum, then to the tiny bones of the middle ear that help us hear. This type of hearing loss causes individuals to hear sounds as muffled more often.

Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss can be caused by different factors, including:

  • Fluid in the middle ear from a cold or allergies.
  • An ear infection or otitis media, a middle ear infection.
  • A hole in the eardrum.
  • Earwax stuck in the ear canal.
  • How the ear was formed before birth.

Treatment for Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss can potentially be corrected or improved with medical or surgical intervention if it’s caused by earwax impaction, illness, foreign object, abnormal growths, or ear infections. Other causes of conductive hearing loss may be improved with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss often happens as a result of inner ear damage or when the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain have problems connecting. This type of hearing loss makes soft sounds harder to hear and loud sounds unclear or muted.

Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by different factors, including:

  • Illness
  • Hereditary hearing loss
  • Aging
  • A blow to the head

Treatment for Sensorineural Hearing Loss

There are currently no medical or surgical interventions that can repair inner ear or auditory nerve damage. This type of hearing loss can potentially be treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. A person with mixed hearing loss may have damage in the outer or middle ear as well as the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is potentially worse than other types because it involves more than one type of hearing loss. With mixed hearing loss, sounds can range from unclear and muffled to muted.

Causes of Mixed Hearing Loss

Factors that can cause conductive or sensorineural hearing loss can also cause mixed hearing loss.

Treatment of Mixed Hearing Loss

Treatment for mixed hearing loss depends on how severe the loss is, and whether other issues stem from conductive hearing loss factors or sensorineural hearing loss factors. If most of the mixed hearing loss is from sensorineural problems, hearing aids, and cochlear implants may be the only treatment options.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

ANSD happens when the inner ear can detect sounds but is not able to transmit the sound from the ear to the brain. Since the brain can’t receive the sounds to process them, ANSD can present as significant hearing loss and even complete deafness.

People of all ages can be diagnosed with ANSD, but is most commonly first noticed in infants or small children.

Causes of Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

ANSD can be caused by different factors, including:

  • Damaging to specialized sensory cells in the inner ear.
  • Damage to auditory neurons.
  • Hereditary genes.

Treatment for Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

Currently, no treatments or interventions can restore hearing loss from ANSD. Some experts believe cochlear implants and hearing aids may help improve this disorder, but further research is needed.

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

Degrees of Hearing Loss

Within all types of hearing loss there are also degrees of hearing loss. For example, if two people each have conductive hearing loss, one of them may have worse symptoms because their degree of hearing loss is greater.

Degrees of hearing loss fall into the following ranges in decibels (dB HL):

  • Normal: -10 to 15 dB HL
  • Slight: 16 to 25 dB HL
  • Mild: 26 to 40 dB HL
  • Moderate: 41 to 55 dB HL
  • Moderately severe: 56 to 70 dB HL
  • Severe: 71 to 90 dB HL
  • Profound: 91+ dB HL

Experience Hearing Loss? Seek Help

While hearing loss is often seen as a common part of growing older, you shouldn’t ignore it. If you struggle to keep up with conversations happening around you, can’t hear your loved ones on the other end of the phone, or find yourself not being able to hear everyday sounds, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your audiologist. Although you may be experiencing different types of hearing loss; they may find ways to improve your hearing, such as CaptionCall service. If you have hearing loss and need captions to use the phone effectively, contact CaptionCall today to see if you qualify for our no-cost service.