There are three distinct types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. K & H Audiology is able to diagnose each of these hearing loss types – and provide the appropriate treatment or hearing aid selection, fitting and adjustment.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is a problem in the outer or middle areas of the ear. It occurs when sound waves cannot reach the nerves that are in the inner ear. If you have this type of hearing loss, you may notice that everything seems quieter and that faint sounds can not be heard.

The common causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Impacted earwax (cerumen)
  • Ear canal infections (external otitis)
  • Fluid build-up behind the eardrum (otitis media)
  • Presence of a foreign body
  • Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear (cochlea) or nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain have been damaged. Unfortunately, SNHL normally cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.

The possible causes of SNHL include:

  • Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing
  • Various illnesses
  • Aging
  • Head trauma
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Malformation of the inner ear

Mixed Hearing Loss

There are instances when people have problems both in the inner ear areas as well as the middle or outer parts of the ear.

This is referred to as mixed hearing loss because it’s a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Mixed Hearing Loss Signs

Mixed hearing loss symptoms can be a combination of those symptoms experienced with conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. These might include:

  • Tinnitus
  • Fullness and pressure in the ear
  • Pain in the ear
  • Trouble hearing or comprehending conversations, specifically in noisy environments
  • Difficulty understanding television sounds

Causes of Mixed Hearing Loss

The causes of mixed hearing loss can vary drastically. In many cases, the sensorineural hearing loss has already occurred and the conductive hearing loss cultivates down the road and for a reason entirely unrelated. In extremely rare cases, conductive hearing loss can contribute to the development of sensorineural hearing loss.

Mixed Hearing Loss Treatments

For the conductive portion of mixed hearing loss, surgery and/or medication may be the solution, but these likely won’t treat the sensorineural aspect of the hearing loss that’s experienced. Many individuals who have mixed hearing loss will be given medical treatment for the conductive hearing, but in relation to the sensorineural component of the hearing loss, they will probably require a hearing aid of some kind. If the hearing loss experienced is mild to severe, the use of a hearing aid can do wonders in improving sensorineural hearing loss.

If you think you may be suffering from mixed hearing loss, at K&H Audiology an Audiologist will provide correct diagnosis after conducting a thorough hearing evaluation. If you receive testing for mixed hearing loss, it will usually involve:

  • Tympanometry
  • Acoustic Reflexes
  • Air conduction pure-tone thresholds
  • Bone conduction pure-tone thresholds
  • Speech discrimination test

These tests will conclude whether the patient is, in fact, suffering from mixed hearing loss or if it’s a different variation of hearing loss.


Book a Consultation with K & H Audiology if you think you may be suffering from any of these hearing loss conditions.