hearing aids and an otoscope on top of hearing charts

What Are Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss refers to any reduction in hearing sensitivity or sound clarity caused by damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear or nerve pathways that carry sound signals to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and affects around 28 million Americans. It is usually cumulative and occurs slowly. Aging and exposure to very loud noise are the most common causes.

A conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with one or more of the parts of the ear that carry sound to the inner ear. These include malformation of the outer or middle ear structures, a middle-ear infection in which fluid accumulates behind the eardrum, abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, a hole in the eardrum, and poor eustachian tube function. Conductive hearing loss can often be partially or completely reversed with medical intervention. Rarely, it can be caused by a more serious condition, which if left unidentified and untreated, may have profound medical effects.