Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound passes though the outer ear, but is blocked before it reaches the inner ear. The hearing loss is usually mild to moderate. In many cases, this type of hearing loss is medically or surgically treatable and hearing can be restored to normal. A combination of conductive and sensorineural is called mixed hearing loss. Sensorineural is damage to the inner ear, cranial nerve, or the central processing centers of the brain.
Types of conductive hearing impairment include:
Ear Infections, if left untreated, can progress to the point that it causes fluid to build up in the Eustachian tube of the middle ear. If the condition is not treated promptly, the fluid buildup can burst through the eardrum and cause mild to moderate loss. Repeated infections that are not damaged can result in permanent sensorineural hearing impairment.
Obstruction of the Ear Canal can occur when earwax builds up in the ear and blocks the canal. This generally results in a mild reduction in hearing high frequencies and can easily be treated by removing the wax. Obstruction also occurs when children insert objects into their ears. Insects have also been known to crawl into the ear canal. Both of those conditions generally result in mild hearing impairment. A physician must be informed to remove the objects. In most cases, once the obstruction is removed, hearing will return to normal.
Otosclerosis is a hereditary condition where one or more auditory ossicle in the middle ear becomes fixed and can not send sound to the inner ear. Ossicles are small bones in the middle ear that send the vibrations required for a person to be able to hear. Surgery is usually needed to improve hearing.
Mixed loss, as stated above, is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This can occur, for example, when an individual has earwax buildup along with hearing loss due to nerve damage. Although the conductive hearing loss may be medically treated, the sensorineural hearing loss is permanent. Once the conductive hearing impairment has been treated, the sensorineural loss may be improved with the use of a hearing aid.
Hearing aids are small devices that amplify sound. The basic styles include behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely in-the-canal (CIC), and invisable-in-the-canal IIC). Other styles include receiver-in-the-canal (RIC), open ear, and CROS / BI-CROS. Each style has its own advantages. Some are very noticeable and some of them are actually invisible to other people.
Your hearing aid specialist can decide which type would be most beneficial for each individual. The specialist will consider the type of hearing loss, the individual's preferences, lifestyle and listening needs, and their ability to control the features of the different styles of hearing aids. Approximately 80 percent of individuals with permanent hearing impairment can be helped with the use of a hearing aid.