Sensorineural vs Conductive Hearing Loss

Sensorineural vs Conductive Hearing Loss

Even though hearing loss affects everyone differently and can be caused by many different reasons, there are two types of hearing loss that you need to know about: sensorineural and conductive. Understanding the differences between these two types can help you better understand your health and treatment options.


Here are the differences between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.


What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

This is the most common form of hearing loss and occurs when the hearing nerves become impaired. This usually happens when the hair cells inside the cochlea are damaged. The cochlea is the curlicue structure inside the inner ear that contains the receptor organ for hearing. These hair cells inside the cochlea are primarily injured by normal aging or noise damage.


What Are the Causes and Symptoms?

In some cases, sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by genetics and is passed inside the womb from the mother. The most common way to get sensorineural hearing loss, though, is through noise damage. Noise is a very common cause of hearing loss in the United States as it can easily damage the cochlea. Sensorineural hearing loss may occur very suddenly or progressively with age, which makes quick treatment very important. Some symptoms can include:

  • Muffled conversations
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness


Best Treatment Options

The best way to diagnose and treat hearing loss is to visit a hearing professional for evaluation.  Treating sensorineural hearing loss early increases your chances of a full recovery, so be sure to seek treatment early if you’re experiencing this loss.


Steroids and other medication can decrease inflammation and help alleviate loss, and for many, cochlear implants are a great way to amplify sounds to normal levels. They do not restore hearing completely but are an effective way to manage hearing loss. 


What About Conductive Hearing Loss?

Unlike sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss is all about obstruction. This type of hearing loss appears when there is damage or obstruction in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Ear infections in children are the most common conductive hearing loss examples. 


What Are the Causes?

The root of conductive hearing loss differentiates depending on what part of the ear is affected. The outer ear may have earwax build up or a stuck object that obstructs sound. Excessive fluid, scarring of eardrum or infection may cause inner ear hearing loss. 


Best Treatment Options

Many conductive hearing loss cases can be treated effectively. Unlike sensorineural hearing loss, conductive can be completely reversed. Clearing fluid or excessive ear wax usually fixes the problem. But there may be cases where surgery or other medication is required to treat the hearing loss. If neither of these help, hearing aids are a helpful way to alleviate hearing loss.


People with hearing loss should know about these types in order to understand causation and treatment options. Treatment can vary depending on the degree and type of hearing loss. Learn more about Relay South Dakota’s many resources that help those who are hard-of-hearing.

Found in: Health