Conductive hearing loss happens when sound can't reach the inner ear because of some physical issue. Learn its symptoms, causes, and treatment. Conductive hearing loss happens when something blocks sound from getting to your inner ear. Hearing loss affects over 30 million adults in the United States, and it can vary in severity. Some people may not even realize they have hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss happens when something blocks sound from getting to your inner ear.
Hearing loss affects over 30 million adults in the United States, and it can vary in severity. Some people may not even realize they have hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss only accounts for a portion of all hearing loss. While not all forms of hearing loss can be reversed, conductive hearing loss is sometimes treatable.
This article will take a closer look at conductive hearing loss and examine its causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
Not everyone with conductive hearing loss will realize they have trouble hearing. Sometimes, family members or friends are the ones to notice that you’re watching TV at a high volume or aren’t able to follow conversations.
You can have different degrees of conductive hearing loss, including mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Hearing loss can also occur in one or both ears.
You might have conductive hearing loss if you:
According to one 2020 study, conductive hearing loss may also negatively impact balance.
Conductive hearing loss is just one type of hearing loss. Hearing loss can also be sensorineural, which is usually a permanent form of hearing loss. It can happen when there’s damage to your auditory nerve, cochlea (a fluid-filled bone in the inner ear that plays an important role in hearing), or brain stem.
You can also experience mixed hearing loss, which is when a person has conductive and sensorineural hearing loss simultaneously.
There's no way to tell which kind of hearing loss you have without getting an exam from a medical professional.
Conductive hearing loss can have various potential causes, including:
Conductive hearing loss or hearing loss caused by physical obstruction is most common in children, especially those who experience frequent ear infections. Children are also at higher risk for this type of hearing loss if they often insert things into their ears.
An in-person hearing exam is a crucial part of diagnosing conductive hearing loss.
A hearing professional will perform tests to evaluate your hearing, which may include:
Your healthcare provider will also check your ear canal for potential physical issues causing your hearing loss, like:
They may also perform a neurological exam since some forms of hearing loss may be caused by underlying neurological issues.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (which is not a type of conductive hearing loss) is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Leaving sudden hearing loss untreated can result in permanent hearing loss. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances are of preserving your hearing.
What might be causing sudden deafness? A few possible causes include:
Treatment for conductive hearing loss will depend on the cause and may include:
Conductive hearing loss happens when sound can’t get to your inner ear. This can happen for many reasons, including ear wax impaction or malformations in the ear canal.
Most cases of conductive hearing loss are treatable. Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, your healthcare provider may recommend medication, hearing aids or other hearing devices, or surgery.
It’s important to get regular hearing exams and see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT, also called an otolaryngologist) or hearing professional, especially if you think you have some degree of hearing loss. Without the help of a qualified expert, it’s impossible to tell on your own what might be causing your hearing difficulties.
Since some causes of hearing loss, including conductive hearing loss, are treatable, getting the proper diagnosis can help limit or reverse hearing loss.