Types of Hearing Loss

Written by the Nano Hearing Aids Team
Reviewed for Accuracy by Lindsay Roberts, AuD.

Lindsay Roberts
Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can affect people of every age and can come on gradually or suddenly. The main types of hearing loss are sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss. In this article, you’ll learn about each type, the causes of hearing loss, and what to do if you suspect you have hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be categorized as either sensorineural, conductive, or mixed.

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss: This occurs when the inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged and can be permanent. It can be caused by aging, genetics, noise exposure, medications, or medical conditions.
  • Conductive Hearing Loss:Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are problems in the middle ear or outer ear that block sound waves from traveling to the inner ear. This can be caused by ear infections, earwax buildup, structural issues within the ear, or ear canal obstructions.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss: This is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. Specifically, it occurs when there is both inner ear/nerve damage and issues in the outer or middle ear.
What Can Cause Hearing Loss?

There are several risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing hearing loss, from age related hearing loss to noise exposure, genetics, earwax buildup, and more.

Age: The risk of hearing loss tends to increase with age.

Noise Exposure: Repeated exposure to a loud noise can damage the inner ear.

Genetics: Hearing loss can be passed down genetically in families. In this case, getting your hearing tested regularly is important for early detection, as hearing tests can identify changes in your hearing ability over time.

Occupational Exposure: Working jobs where there are loud noises can put someone at a higher risk of having hearing loss.

Earwax Buildup: Excessive earwax can lead to a blockage of the ear canal, causing difficulty hearing.

Ear Infection: Chronic ear infections can potentially lead to hearing loss.

Medical Conditions: Diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions can put someone at higher risk of developing hearing loss.

Medications: Some medications can be ototoxic, potentially harming the inner ear.

Head Injuries: Certain head injuries can cause hearing loss.

Use of Headphones: Listening to music or sounds through headphones can put people at a higher risk of developing noise induced hearing loss.

Do I Need a Baseline Hearing Test?

A baseline hearing test can provide a general reference point for hearing health. This makes it possible to more easily monitor changes in hearing over time. It’s a good idea to have a hearing test every few years when visiting the doctor for a general physical.

What Can I Do About Hearing Loss?
Symptoms of Severe Hearing Loss

You might have severe hearing loss if you have the below symptoms. If you suspect you have severe/profound hearing loss, you should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist or primary care doctor. They can conduct various hearing tests to determine the severity of your hearing loss, causes, and next steps for treatment (such as prescription hearing aids).

  • Difficulty hearing loud noises, even in quiet environments
  • Difficulty hearing conversations
  • You might find yourself reading lips as a result of your hearing loss
Symptoms of Perceived Mild To Moderate Hearing Loss

You might have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss if you experience any of the below:

  • Trouble hearing conversations in noisy places and with a lot of background noise or loud sounds
  • Difficulty hearing someone on the phone
  • Feeling tired from listening
  • Finding it difficult to follow conversations and hear people in group settings
  • Needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio, even if others say that it’s loud
OTC Hearing Aids For Perceived Mild To Moderate Hearing Loss

If you think you might have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, OTC hearing aids can be a great solution for improving your hearing. These FDA-regulated devices don't need a prescription, hearing exam, or doctor's appointment. With Nano OTC hearing aids, you simply pick the best dome size for your ears, turn them on, and put them in. Keep in mind it might take several days or weeks for your ears and brain to get used to them.

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