Conductive Hearing Loss: Signs, Causes, and Treatments

Conductive Hearing Loss: Signs, Causes, and Treatments

In Hearing Loss by Dr. Robert Hooper Au.D.

Hearing loss can be a frustrating condition, making it difficult to hear and respond to your family and friends. If ignored, hearing loss can start to affect every aspect of your life, from your success at work, your physical mobility, health and sense of independence. 

The difficult part often is realizing that you have hearing loss at all. The condition often starts slowly so you don’t realize your hearing loss has progressed to such an extent over the years. It’s a good idea to have your hearing checked annually no matter what your age and lifestyle. Our team can help you identify the particular type of hearing loss you have and help you find the best solution for your hearing needs.

Three Types of Hearing Loss

There are three major classifications for hearing loss that compromise your hearing ability. The most common type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural. This type of hearing loss occurs in the inner ear where tiny hairs known as cilia collect the vibrations from the audio information around you and send them to your brain to be recognized as different sounds. 

Cilia are very fragile and can be damaged due to old age, exposure to excessive sound, certain medications, head trauma and more. What is most alarming about this type of hearing loss is once the cilia is damaged or destroyed it cannot be repaired. Sensorineural hearing loss is most commonly treated with hearing aids.

The other main type of hearing loss is called conductive and indicates a blockage in the outer or middle ear. When there is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss this indicates the third classification of hearing loss, which is called mixed hearing loss

Because of the prevalence of sensorineural hearing loss many more people are aware of the condition. However, conductive hearing loss is also important to understand. 

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss affects people of all ages and occurs when there is a blockage in the middle or outer ear. A blockage will stop the transfer of sound waves into electrical impulses sent to the brain, creating regular miscommunications in your day and less awareness of the world around you. 

When you have conductive hearing loss even when your inner ear is healthy and intact, it will not receive the sound waves responsible for your brain to process. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by a build-up or impaction of earwax which can block the ear canal. Often these impactions are caused by people attempting to clean earwax out of their ear on their own, who end up creating a larger problem. Other causes of conductive hearing loss include a buildup of fluid in the middle ear due to ear infection, a foreign object lodged in the ear canal, a tumor, growth or damage or deformity to the bone structure of the ear canal.

Signs of Conductive Hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss can be moderate or severe depending on the nature of the blockage. It is helpful to know the signs of conductive hearing loss and to be able to distinguish them from sensorineural. 

Any type of hearing loss will compound to a serious problem if ignored. For conductive hearing loss, the sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it can be reversed. If you suddenly have hearing loss in one or both ears, feel like your ears are stuffed, have discharge in the ear canal, feel pain in the ear canal or experience problems staying upright due to dizziness or vertigo, it is important to seek help.

Treating Conductive Hearing Loss

The good news is that, in most cases of conductive hearing loss, removing the blockage can reverse the condition. Your doctor can help you safely remove excess earwax from your ear or antibiotics can help clear up an ear infection, allowing your ear to drain so you can hear again. In the case of tumors and bone issues, there are surgeries that can clear these issues up so you can regain your original hearing again.

Dealing with Hearing Loss 

For hearing loss that cannot be reversed, hearing aids are a trusty option. Schedule an appointment with our team of hearing health professionals, and we will test your hearing, identify any hearing issues, and help you find the best solutions to help you hear as clearly as possible.