Hearing loss can result if there is a problem at any point in the auditory pathway: The Outer, Middle or Inner ear or in the complex auditory pathway up to the brain
Hearing loss can be described as congenital or acquired. A congenital hearing loss is one that is present at birth or soon after. An acquired loss is one that occurs later on.
Hearing loss can also be described in terms of when it occurs in the process of the development of speech.
Hearing Loss is categorised as conductive or sensorineural, or a mixture of both, depending on which part of the auditory system is affected.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by blockage or damage in the outer and/or middle ear.
A conductive loss often leads to a loss of loudness because the blockage leads to a reduction in the amount of sound conducted to the cochlea. This results in the quantity (loudness) rather than quality (clarity) of sound being affected.
A conductive hearing loss can be acquired or congenital. Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss are shown below.
Conductive hearing loss can often be helped by medical or surgical treatment. If medical treatment is not possible, often people can benefit considerably from amplification provided by a hearing aid.
Sensorineural Hearing loss is caused by damage to or malfunction of the cochlea (sensory part) or the hearing nerve (neural part).
A sensorineural hearing loss can be acquired or congenital. Some of the causes of a sensorineural hearing loss are shown below.
A sensorineural hearing loss usually leads to both a loss of loudness and a lack of clarity. The quantity and quality of sound is affected. This can sometimes limit the benefit that hearing aids can offer as sounds may be loud enough but distorted.
There is rarely any medical treatment for a sensorineural hearing loss and therefore this type of loss is permanent.