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A Guide to Different Types of Hearing Loss

There are three main types of hearing loss. In fact, there are three different types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive and mixed hearing loss.

Not everyone's experience of hearing loss will be equal and the key difference between the types of hearing loss is the physical location of the problem within the ear.

In order to determine the types and severity of hearing loss, and audiological evaluation would be required so that a medical professional can identify the type and make recommendations on how to manage it.


Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss.

The root of the cause occurs in either the cochlea or the hearing nerve pathways from the inner ear that carries information about the loudness and clarity of sounds to the brain. A number of things can result in sensorineural hearing loss including noise exposure, head trauma, infection, age or genetics.

Symptoms can include muffled hearing and tinnitus, as well as difficulty hearing when the speaker's face is not visible and misunderstanding speech.

Unfortunately, this type of hearing loss is irreversible. However, it can be effectively treated with hearing aids.


Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds can’t get from the outer ear to the eardrum and tiny bones of the inner ear.

Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss can include:

  • An accumulation of earwax
  • A collection of fluid in the middle ear
  • Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis)
  • Middle ear infections (otitis media)
  • Perforation of the eardrum

Conductive hearing loss usually only causes the “volume” of sounds to appear lower and t may be more difficult to hear faint sounds, and loud sounds might not seem as loud as usual.

Clearing excessive wax or fluids out of the ear canal can often remove conductive hearing loss. At HearingDirect.com, we are able to offer a number of key ear hygiene products such as ear cleansers and wax removers to help eradicate this type of hearing loss.

In other cases, hearing aids can help correct this conductive hearing loss.


Mixed hearing loss occurs when people show symptoms of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss commonly occurs when the ear sustains a trauma and symptoms can appear gradually over time. For example, a conductive hearing loss symptom could result in that of a sensorineural symptom and vice versa.

Treatment will depend primarily on whether the hearing loss is more sensorineural or conductive. If conductive hearing loss is more present, surgical methods and other medical treatment such as wax removal may help repair the ear back to normal. Whereas if the hearing loss is showing more sensorineural symptoms, then a hearing aid may be a more manageable approach.

Other Types of Hearing Loss

Alongside the three core types of differentiating hearing loss, there are a number of other causes which could result in diminished hearing or loss of hearing.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

A common cause of hearing loss is caused by prolonged exposure to harmful sounds or a sudden intense noise like an explosion. Most people with noise-induced hearing loss could have avoided it. Excessive noise exposure can happen unknowingly at home in the form of super loud music or as a by-product of a workplace environment.

The nature of noise-induced hearing loss is predominantly sensorineural, and at present, can only be helped and not cured.

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss is mostly related to sensorineural hearing loss.

There are four main possible causes of sudden hearing loss (SHL): circulatory anomalies, viral infection of the cochlea, irregularities of the cochlear membrane and autoimmune disorders.

There is a number of other notable causes such as:

  • Earwax buildup
  • Excess fluid in the ear
  • Ear infection
  • Bone damage
  • Artery blockage
  • Ageing

However, the most common cause of SHL is a disturbance of the cochlear blood flow.

Ear Fullness

Ear fullness is when the ears feel clogged, blocked, congested or stuffed and the sensation can heighten when yawning and eating. It can be caused by a shift in air pressure, cold or flu and ear fullness is easily treatable.

The condition is not directly associated with hearing loss, but prominent symptoms include muffled hearing, reduced hearing or temporary hearing loss.

Hearing Test

At HearingDirect, we have created our very own online hearing check so you can test your hearing for free and in the comfort of your own home.

All you will need is a few free minutes and some ear or headphones. Once the test is complete, you will get your results instantly via email and based on the outcome of the hearing test, you may be encouraged to take further action.

We also have a range of items to assist those with hearing loss. We stock a range of products from hearing aids to amplified phones, super loud alarm clocks, assistive listening devices and more.

To learn more about hearing loss, read our Guide to Hearing.

If you have any questions relating to hearing loss, please do contact us and our expert team will do their best to help you.