A Guide to the Different Types of Hearing Loss

Mature woman with hearing aid indoors

Hearing loss is a very general term that describes a person’s inability to hear certain frequencies clearly, resulting in problems interacting with the world in daily life. 

There are, however, many different types of hearing loss, and which particular one you have will determine the type of treatment you receive to improve your hearing. 

The type of hearing loss you have depends on which part of your hearing is damaged so here’s a guide to the most common types of hearing loss people suffer. 

Conductive Hearing Loss 

Conductive hearing loss means sounds can’t get through the inner and middle ear. It’s often caused by fluid in your middle ear because the Eustachian tube isn’t draining properly, infections, benign tumours, ear wax or something blocking the outer or middle ear, or a hole in the ear drum. Surgery or medication can often improve hearing. 

Retrocochlear Hearing Loss 

Retrocochlear hearing loss describes a central hearing loss that happens beyond the cochlear and affects the auditory nerve. This can have many causes such as trauma, old age, infections, tumours, metabolic disorders and vascular disorders. 

Retrocochlear hearing loss is rare, but generally affects only one ear and can come with a range of other symptoms, depending on the cause. 

Unilateral Hearing Loss 

Unilateral or single-sided hearing loss affects just one ear and can be caused by trauma, viral infections, and occasionally surgery to remove brain tumours. 

It’s a common condition and affects the person’s ability to locate the direction of sounds putting them at a higher risk for accidents and leaving them unable to separate background noise from the sound they want to hear. 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear and/or auditory nerve and can be a result of trauma, infection, sudden loud noises or prolonged exposure to excessive noise such as industrial deafness. This type of hearing loss is permanent and cannot be repaired, but hearing aids can help. 

There are also varying levels of severity, and without proper treatment, it can continue to worsen. 

Ototoxic Hearing Loss 

Ototoxic hearing loss is caused by certain medications or chemicals and can cause persistent tinnitus, and dizziness and loss of balance along with hearing loss. It’s not as common as other forms of hearing loss and is often only temporary while the drug is being used. Permanent forms can benefit from hearing aids. 

Sudden Hearing Loss 

Sudden hearing loss can be permanent or temporary and is caused by very loud and close noises such as explosions and gunshots. It can also be caused by infections and head trauma, or even chronic stress.  

Brisbane’s Most Thorough Free Hearing Test 

At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors, university students and working Australians. We understand that seeking help for your hearing problems can be embarrassing and stressful but we’re here to help you with this sensitive issue. We provide a thorough hearing test to determine what type of hearing loss you have so we can offer the best treatment. 

Call us on (07) 3366 9355 or contact us online to discuss your hearing concerns and book a free no-obligation hearing test and consultation.