Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects people of all ages throughout San Diego and across California. It can be caused by a wide variety of factors, though loud noise exposure and the natural aging process are the most common culprits. Every San Diego hearing loss patient’s condition fits into one of three categories. The kind of hearing loss you have is distinguished by what part of the auditory system has been damaged.

Hearing Loss Types

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive problems result from issues of the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing loss has many possible causes, including ear infections and wax or fluid buildups. It is usually mild to moderate in degree, though it can become severe and even cause deafness in rare cases. Conductive issues are often treatable with medication or surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear and is often referred to as “nerve deafness.” About 90% of all hearing loss in San Diego patients is caused by sensorineural damage, and impairments caused by aging and noise exposure are included in this category. If you’d like to learn more, you can read through the information on our Causes of Hearing Loss page.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells that grow on the cochlea are damaged. It is usually permanent. Sensorineural problems are most often be treated with hearing aids, though other treatment plans such as bone-anchored hearing aids, cochlear implants, and auditory brainstem implants may be recommended in cases of severe hearing loss or profound deafness that can’t be treated using hearing aids.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss results when a person suffers from a combination of conductive and sensorineural problems in both the inner and middle or outer ear. Depending on the severity, cause, and frequency of hearing loss, treatment options may include medication, surgery, and/or hearing aids.

All three types of hearing loss in San Diego patients can occur in one or both ears. When a person’s hearing is impaired in just one ear, it’s called unilateral hearing loss. About 1 in 4 hearing losses are unilateral. When the condition affects both ears, it is bilateral. Bilateral hearing loss is more common, accounting for about 75% of hearing losses. Treatment may differ depending on whether your hearing loss is in one or both ears.