You are currently viewing What is hearing loss? 

What is hearing loss? 

Written by John Thistle BC-HIS 

Newcastle Hearing Solutions Limited 

Most people know someone who experiences hearing loss. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, 35% of the adult population has at least a mild high frequency hearing loss. Most instances do not require any intervention, but it is significant enough we should all have a better understanding of what hearing loss is.   

The first type of loss to look at is a conductive hearing loss. A conductive loss can be viewed as being a blockage which is preventing sounds from reaching the nerves within the inner ear. That blockage could be many different things, from an actual blockage caused by earwax or other foreign substance within the ear. It could also be caused by a breakdown in the conductive structure of the ear such as a hole in the eardrum or a bone disorder affecting the middle ear such as otosclerosis. A conductive hearing loss can often be corrected. 

The next type of hearing loss is a sensorineural loss. This one is a little more complicated and accounts for 90% of all total hearing loss. This type, as the name implies, is a breakdown of the neural structure within the inner ear. Tiny microscopic nerves and hair cells can become damaged from medications, noise exposure or other factors. When severe enough, the treatment is typically to use hearing aids since we cannot yet restore the lost function of these dead cells.  

Lastly, a mixed hearing loss is a combination of a conductive loss, and a sensorineural loss. Depending of the severity of the conductive element, surgery may be considered to improve hearing and help with hearing aid function for the sensorineural portion. If you suspect you may be having difficulty, we strongly encourage you to have your hearing tested to determine if treatment could help.