Like all our senses, hearing is something automatic. In actuality, it’s a complicated, precise process that has a bunch of fragile pieces to it. 

Hearing loss occurs whenever one part of this system is not functioning at its fullest. 

While this page can help you better understand which type of hearing loss you might have, the only way to be certain is to get your hearing tested by a hearing care professional.


Not all types of hearing loss are the same. They’re usually categorized into two groups based on the symptoms and where the damage to the hearing process was.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is an issue with the inner ear. Unlike conductive hearing loss, it often regards damaged hair cells that can’t transfer sound beyond to the nerve. The most common causes of this sort of hearing loss are aging, bacterial and viral infections, or prolonged exposure to loud noises. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated with medication or surgery.

Conductive hearing loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when the inner ear does not properly receive sound signals. It can be caused by injury to the middle ear or ear canal, fluid build-up behind the eardrum, or even excessive earwax. Conductive hearing loss can usually be treated medically. If surgery or medication is not an option for your case, hearing aids can help improve hearing.

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss where the inner ear, as well as the middle or outer ear, are affected. This can be caused by anything that can affect different regions of the ear, including certain medications, illness, or head trauma. 


Noise-Induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by exposure to loud sounds that damages or destroys the hair cells in your inner ear. 

NIHL can happen to anyone at any age and results from a single exposure to an extremely loud impulse sound (e.g., a shotgun blast close to your unprotected ears) or regular exposure over time to sounds exceeding 85 decibels (dB). This might include something like working with construction machinery without protection or listening to music too loud.


Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear that occurs within a very short timeframe (24-72 hours). 

Though this condition most commonly affects those between 40 and 60 years old, this condition can affect any person. If you suspect that this might be happening to you, seek medical attention immediately.


In the cases where the hearing loss is caused by a specific event like an infection or physical obstruction, then removing the cause usually helps recover most or all of your hearing. The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be repaired with surgery, though. 

In these cases, using a hearing aid will have a dramatic effect on improving your quality of life.

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You might have hearing loss if able to answer yes to one or more of the questions below:

  • Require frequent repetition of words?
  • Have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people?
  • Think others sound muffled or like they’re mumbling?
  • Have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms?
  • Have the TV or radio turned up to a high volume?
  • Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations?
  • Read lips or more intently watch people’s faces when they speak?
  • Feel stressed from straining to hear what others are saying?
  • Feel annoyed at other people because you cannot hear or understand them?
  • withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing?
  • Have diabetes, heart, circulation, or thyroid problems?
  • Recall exposure to very loud sounds over a long period or a single exposure to explosive noise?

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