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Our guide to the different types of hearing loss

When we first meet a client, we’ll usually explain the different types of hearing loss and how they can be treated. This often helps our clients come to terms with their hearing loss and they realise that with our help, their hearing can improve.

In this article, we’re going to cover the 3 key types of hearing loss, their causes and the treatments available. That being said, every client is unique, so while a type of treatment might work for one person, it may not be as effective for another.

If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, no matter what kind, we’d recommend that you speak to your GP or an audiologist. Our team are here to help you get on the path to better hearing. Book a consultation with one of our audiologists today by calling 01206 760839 or emailing us on


Conductive Hearing Loss

Our ears are made up of 3 parts the outer, middle, and inner ear. Hearing loss is defined as a conductive when the sound is unable to pass through the middle or outer part of the ear. Conductive hearing loss is most commonly caused by an earwax build-up.

If you’re experiencing conductive hearing loss, you may struggle to hear softer sounds while louder sounds can seem quieter or distorted. Another symptom might be a feeling of pain or discomfort within your ear.

Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss are:

  • A build-up of earwax
  • An ear infection within the canal or the middle ear
  • Trapped fluid in the ear – this may be caused by a cold or allergies
  • A hole in the eardrum
  • A small object stuck in the outer ear
  • A range of genetic differences. Examples of this include irregular eustachian tubes or a birth defect within the middle or outer ear

Usually, conductive hearing loss is treatable through medication. Some types of conductive hearing loss may require surgery but this is very rare.


Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is hearing loss caused when the inner ear or nerves around the ear are damaged. SNHL is the most common form of hearing loss. Like conductive hearing loss, if you’re suffering from SNHL, you’ll likely struggle to hear soft noises and find that loud sounds appear muffled or unclear.

Some causes of SNHL include:

  • A range of different illnesses
  • Old age
  • Trauma to the brain or the head, for example, a sharp blow to the head
  • Genetic-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noises or explosions for a prolonged period
  • Taking medication/drugs which can affect the ear

Unfortunately, SNHL is often incurable, however, there are many ways in which we can improve a patient’s hearing. The most common solution is to use hearing aids. In some cases, SNHL may be curable through certain types of medication or surgery.


Mixed Hearing Loss

The third type of hearing loss is mixed hearing loss, although it’s much rarer than the previous two discussed. If you’re suffering from mixed hearing loss, you are experiencing conductive and sensorineural hearing loss at the same time. This means that there is damage in the outer, middle and inner ear.

It is harder to define the causes of mixed hearing loss as it is generally triggered by a combination of conductive and SNHL problems. For example, a patient who is suffering from earwax blockage whilst also experiencing hearing loss problems as a result of trauma to the head. These two issues occurring at the same time would cause mixed hearing loss, where the effects are often considered worse than only having 1 of the problems.

How your audiologist treats mixed hearing loss will largely depend on your circumstances but each problem will likely be treated separately. The conductive part can often be cured, whilst the SNHL problem might require the use of a hearing aid.


If you’re experiencing hearing loss, no matter what type, speaking to an audiologist is the first step to achieving better hearing. We’re here to help! Give us a call on 01206 760839 or email us on to speak to a member of the team.

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