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Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

The range of hearing aid products on the market isn’t just for choosy consumers—different hearing aids serve different types of hearing loss. It’s important to understand your type of hearing loss in order to find the best solution. Similarly, being informed of hearing loss causes can help prevent further hearing impairment.

Hearing Loss Causes

Hearing loss can be caused by many different factors: genetic, trauma, infection, or as part of the aging process. Common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Swimmer’s ear is a bacterial infection of the outer ear. It often happens after swimming, diving, or any activity where water gets lodged in the ear. This sort of fluid accumulation may lead to infection, which can be painful and lead to a decrease in hearing capability.
  • Earwax build-up, which can be remedied by a medical technician with a process called ear irrigation.
  • Foreign body damage, such as by an aggressive cotton swab cleaning that has disrupted the ear anatomy.
  • Inflamed middle ear infection caused by bacteria or a virus. This type of infection is usually very painful and results in substantial hearing loss.
  • Perforated ear drum caused by foreign bodies.
  • Otosclerosis, or abnormal bone growth in the middle of the ear.
  • Presbyacusis, or age-related hearing loss.
  • Blast injury is hearing loss caused by extremely loud noises, even for brief periods of time. Shotgun blasts, rocket launches, and even jet engine takeoffs can result in blast injury.
  • Ménière's disease, a condition characterized by excess lymphatic fluid in the ear. Suffers complain of hearing loss, vertigo, and balance difficulties.
  • Ototoxic medications used to treat heart disease, cancer, and other serious conditions can damage sensory cells of the ears that are pertinent to hearing.

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss is used to define hearing loss that occurs within the outer and middle sections of the ear. In cases of conductive hearing loss, sound doesn’t move normally through the ear canal, ear drum, or the three bones that conduct sonic waves. People who have conductive hearing loss complain that they feel like their ears are plugged, and they very well may be—earwax blocks are a common cause of conducive hearing loss. Other causes include a punctured eardrum, fluid accumulation, infection, or a genetic defect.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss is the more common type of hearing loss, characterized by a damaged cochlea. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by genetic defects, physical trauma, infections, overexposure to loud noises, fluid accumulation, and a natural byproduct of the aging process. Hearing aids help this type of hearing loss.

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