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Hearing loss is often categorised into 3 main types:

Conductive loss is when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear such that sound cannot be conducted to the inner ear effectively. Examples of conductive hearing loss include those caused by wax blockage, a perforation of the ear drum, “glue ear” (fluid in the middle ear space) or damaged or stiffened middle ear bones.

The result of a conductive hearing loss is that sounds are softer, but if amplified adequately, can often be made to sound very clear again, as the nerves can detect the sounds well if they receive enough sound in the first place.

Conductive loss can often be treated using medicine or surgery. When we detect conductive hearing loss, appropriate medical reports and referrals will be made.

Sensorineural loss is where the hair cells or nerve fibres in the inner ear (cochlea) are no longer functioning adequately, causing a breakdown in the conversion of sound energy into neural activity.

Common causes of sensorineural loss include the natural ageing process (presbycusis), excessive noise exposure, head trauma as well as disease processes. Sensorineural hearing loss will often result in reduced clarity of hearing due to there being fewer hair cells to detect the sound, even if the sound is amplified.

With sensorineural loss, since it’s the actual hearing cells that have been damaged, there is no medical or surgical treatment available. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent. When we detect sensorineural loss, hearing aids and good quality audiology are currently the most effective treatment.

Mixed loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural loss. The conductive loss is potentially treatable by medicine or surgery, however, even if this treatment is successful, you will still be left with a residual sensorineural loss, which may still require hearing aids to manage effectively. When we detect mixed loss, your GP or and ENT Specialist will be closely involved in the treatment plan along with us.

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