SoundSpace Online

Types of Hearing Loss

During audiological testing the audiologist will want to find out whether the person has a hearing loss and how severe this may be and also what type of hearing loss it is. This will help determine the best way forward for management. It may be that the person has a temporary hearing loss that needs to be monitored or a more permanent and severe loss that may benefit from hearing technology. Hearing losses can be categorised by by when it began (for example at birth or later in life) and by whether it is progressing or stable, and where in the ear the problem is (for example, in the middle ear or inner ear). 

So, we can have:

  1. A congenital hearing loss which occurs before, at or around birth
  2. An acquired hearing loss which begins later in life
  3. A progressive hearing loss in which hearing loss deteriorates over time

We can also have:

  • A conductive hearing loss is a problem with the outer or middle ear where the sound cannot be carried optimally through to the inner ear and cochlea. For example, they would want to find out if it is a temporary hearing loss caused by fluid behind the ear drum
  • A sensorineural hearing loss is a problem within the inner ear/cochlear or more unusually beyond the cochlear a problem with the nerve of hearing carrying sounds to the brain. For example the hair cells found in the cochlear may be damaged so unable to amplify and carry the sound to hearing nerve
  • A mixed hearing loss is a combination of a conductive and sensori-neural loss. For example someone might have a problem with the way their cochlear works and on top of that a damaged ear drum so both components of a hearing loss. For more information, please visit this Family Audiology website page

The following SoundSpace Online subsections will provide a little more detail on sensori-neural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) have some good resources to look at, please visit this National Deaf Children's Society website page under the heading of "Understanding your child’s hearing tests” (these include information in Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu and Welsh). Additionally, t
his video from the NDCS details the various hearing tests: