Hearing loss has many different causes, including genetic factors, sensory overload, accidents or illness, and the aging process. It can range from mild to severe, which will be determined by your hearing instrument specialist (HIS).

The two types of hearing loss are:

  • Conductive
  • Sensorineural

It is called mixed hearing loss when a person presents with the above-mentioned types.

Congenital hearing loss is hearing loss presenting at birth and hearing loss experienced after birth is called acquired hearing loss. Noise is found to be the most common cause of acquired hearing loss in patients.

Conductive hearing loss 

Conductive hearing loss has to do with interference between the outer and inner ear while sound waves are transmitted. 

For example, this may be for the following reasons: 

  • The earwax in the ear canal is blocked 
  • The three small bones of the middle ear cannot transmit sound waves to the inner ear.
  • The tympanic membrane cannot respond to sound and vibrates. For example, fluid build-up in the middle ear can inhibit movement of the tympanic membrane. 

There is a possibility that conductive hearing loss can be treated, and normal hearing would be restored. Make an appointment with your HIS to explore treatment options. 

Sensorineural hearing loss 

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear, the cochlea. For example, sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by disease, trauma or some other harmful event to the cochlea or the cochlear nerve. The rest of the ear, including the tiny bones and tympanic membrane, can continue to function, but electrical impulses cannot reach the brain.

Causes of hearing loss 

Some reasons why you may have hearing loss:

  • Inherited disorders: Certain types of hearing loss are inherited, which means that parents will pass the affected genes on to their children. In most cases, inherited hearing loss is caused by deformities of the inner ear. 
  • Noise: especially loud noises such as live concerts, gunshots or firecrackers.  Exacerbated by exposure to work or entertainment in these environments for extended periods. If you are standing next to someone but have to shout to be heard, you can be sure that the noise is loud enough to damage your ears. You can protect your hearing by reducing your exposure to loud noise or by wearing appropriate protective devices such as earplugs
  • Trauma: such as perforation of the eardrum, head trauma such as a skull fracture or changes in air pressure.
  • Illnesses can cause hearing loss, such as meningitis, mumps and chickenpox. Severe jaundice can also cause hearing loss.

Keep in mind, hearing often becomes less sensitive as we age. This has an impact on the clarity with which we hear sounds or decipher speech. Make an appointment to see your HIS if you want to discuss your ability to hear.