There are two main types of hearing loss, and both types have different causes, symptoms and treatment options. Both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are diagnosed using pure tone audiometry testing, and if you're experiencing hearing loss, you should know what type you have in order to understand your options. Here's an overview these two types of hearing loss:


This type of hearing loss occurs when your cochlea, located in your inner ear, is damaged. Your cochlea contains tiny cells that transport sound from your ear to your brain, where the sound is translated into what you hear. Damage can occur due to trauma, noise exposure and the presence of an autoimmune disease, which can cause your white blood cells to attack your own body. Deterioration of the cells in cochlea can also occur as part of the aging process. Sensorineural hearing loss can make it difficult to follow conversations when there's background noise, and sounds may seem muffled. Some sufferers also experience buzzing in their ears and may not be able to pick up certain sounds, such as high-pitched voices.

There's no cure for this type of hearing loss, but your hearing can be improved with the use of hearing aids or a cochlear implant. The suggested mode of treatment will depend on the results of your hearing test and the extent of damage to your cochlea. In addition to amplifying sound, hearing aids can be used to alter the pitch of certain sounds, and this can enable the sound to be received by an undamaged part of your cochlea, as different parts of the cochlea receive and process different types of sound. If the cells in your cochlea are severely damaged, a cochlear implant can be used to bypass your ear altogether. The implant is attached to your temporal bone and receives sound through a microphone you wear around your neck or attached to your waistband.


This type of hearing loss tends to be caused by a problem with your middle ear and can be temporary or permanent. Trapped fluid from a viral infection, impacted wax and narrowing of the ear canal due to a tumour or other tissue growth are all possible causes of conductive hearing loss. Symptoms that could indicate this type of hearing loss include sounds remaining clear but too low, an unpleasant odour in your ears and ear pain.

Treatment for conductive hearing loss depends on what your audiologist has identified as causing the hearing loss. If you have a lingering viral infection, you may need an aggressive course of antibiotics, and if you have impacted ear wax, your hearing can be restored by having the blockage cleared. Conductive hearing loss can be more difficult to treat if narrowing of your ear canal caused by a tumour or other tissue growth is to blame. If the cause of the narrowing cannot be removed, you can try using hearing aids to improve sound volume.

Once your audiologist has established the type of hearing loss you have, they will discuss suitable treatment options with you in more detail. If you're concerned about the health of your ears, book a consultation with your audiologist (like those at hearservice) as soon as possible.