What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
Conductive hearing loss is when the ear’s ability to conduct sound into the inner ear is blocked or reduced. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including excess earwax or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear structures. Sounds become quieter, and sometimes sound muffled. Conductive hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, and can affect one or both of your ears.
Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can often be divided into two types: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Whereas conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem with the conduction of sound, sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage in the cochlea or hearing nerves and pathways. Mixed hearing loss refers to a combination of these two types of hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss audiogram or test is the most effective way of determining the type and degree of your hearing loss. If you’re currently experiencing hearing difficulties and want advice and support on what to do next, please get in touch with a member of our friendly team who can help guide you into finding diagnoses and solutions.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
- Earwax Build-up
Sudden hearing loss in one ear is likely to be caused by excess earwax/cerumen in the outer ear. It is a common cause of conductive hearing loss as it creates a barrier that stops sounds from reaching the ear drum, having a significant impact on your ability to hear.
Earwax is crucial to the health of your ears as it helps keep unwanted debris, such as dust and dirt, from entering and penetrating your ear. However, too little ear wax can cause your ears to become dry, itchy and prone to infection, and too much earwax can limit the effectiveness of your ears.
If earwax is the cause of your hearing difficulty, it is likely to be temporary and something that can be resolved with suitable earwax removal solutions. A hearing specialist will be able to recommend the best approach to removing your excess earwax.
- Ear Infection
Otitis media/glue ear is an infection in your middle ear that can cause conductive hearing loss. The middle ear is connected to the throat by the Eustachian tube, and when viruses and bacteria that normally live in the throat cross into the middle ear, an infection is caused, which is often otitis media.
It causes inflammation and a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum, which makes it difficult for the eardrum and ossicular chain to work together to move the sounds to the auditory nerve. Otitis media is particularly common in young children, but can also occur in adults.
Infections to the outer ear, such as otitis externa, is another possible cause of conductive hearing loss. Most ear infections are usually temporary, and can be effectively treated by a hearing specialist.
- Genetic Hearing Loss
Malformation of your ear structure is another cause of conductive hearing loss, and can be inherited from your parents or other family members. It causes hearing loss from birth, but treatment options are available, and include surgery, ear moulding and the use of hearing aids.
Otosclerosis is another example of an inherited disease. However, this condition usually develops when you are a young adult. Otosclerosis refers to abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, reducing the efficiency of sound transmitted into the inner ear. It causes your hearing to gradually decline over months or a few years, but can be treated with surgery or hearing aids. However, if it is left untreated, it will continue to get worse.
Even if your parents don’t suffer from the same hearing difficulties as you, it is still possible that you have inherited a gene mutation from them as they might be what is known as a carrier (someone who carries a mutated gene and passes it onto their offspring but doesn’t suffer from it themselves).
- Hole in the Eardrum
A hole in the eardrum (perforated eardrum) It is often developed from an infection or physical injury and can cause instant hearing loss. Sound vibrations aren’t captured by the damaged ear drum as effectively, resulting in conductive hearing loss. Depending on the seriousness, surgery may be required to rectify the perforated eardrum.
Conductive Hearing Loss Treatment
Treatment for conductive hearing loss will very much depend on the cause. The treatment for a hole in the eardrum will be different for the treatment of excess earwax, for example. We therefore highly recommend that anyone who is suffering from hearing loss visits a hearing specialist.
For some cases, a hearing aid may be a suitable solution, but for other instances, surgery may be required. If you would like to learn more about the different treatment methods available for conductive hearing loss, book a free consultation with a hearing specialist. We are here to help and to ensure you get the service and products needed for you to enjoy better hearing.