Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss and deafness happen when sound signals don’t reach the brain. This is caused by a problem in the hearing system.

There are different types of hearing loss depending on which part of the hearing system is not working properly.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is caused by problems in the inner ear: Damage to the hair cells inside the cochlea, damage to the acoustic nerve, or both.

It makes it more difficult to hear quiet sounds and reduces the quality of sound that you can hear.

Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent.

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer and middle ear: Something, like ear wax or an ear infection, stopping sound from passing through the ear canal, ear drum, or bones in the middle ear.

Sounds will become quieter and may sound muffled.

Conductive hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause.

a diagram of the ear with some labels, showing the inner, middle and inner ear sections

Mixed Hearing Loss

If a person suffers from both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, this is classified as mixed hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss affects both the inner ear and outer or middle ear.

It can lead to a more profound hearing loss.

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)

This type of hearing loss is not caused by a problem with the hearing system. The sound reaches the acoustic nerve, but there is a problem with it being transmitted to the brain. 

ANSD can occur for a variety of reasons; a genetic mutation, damage to the auditory nerve, specific damage to hair cells within the inner ear, among others.