Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

About 466 million people in the world have hearing loss. Considering the impact the condition can have on a person’s life, this condition should be taken seriously. While there are not many things you can do to prevent age-induced hearing loss, understanding the other risk factors and causes can help you avoid developing the condition prematurely. In this post, we shall look at the five common types of hearing loss and their causes.

1. Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural is a type of hearing loss that arises from the cochlea being damaged or failing to work properly. People with sensorineural hearing loss may struggle to perceive sounds or make sense of speech in noisy places. Some of the most common causes of this kind of hearing impairment include age, severe or repeated head injuries, illness, genetics, adverse reaction to a medication, congenital issues, and lengthy exposure to loud music or industrial noise. Depending on the cause, sensorineural hearing loss can be permanent or treatable.

2. Conductive hearing loss

This one occurs when parts in the outer or middle ear are damaged, and the conductive flow of sound vibrations is blocked from reaching the inner ear. People who are diagnosed with conductive hearing report perceiving sound as though their ears are stuffed. Doctors and researchers have associated this form of hearing loss with skin growth, benign tumors, ear surgeries, infections such as chronic mastoiditis, draining ears, Down syndrome, Treacher Collins, Goldenhar, Atresia, and Microtia.

3. Mixed hearing loss

As the name implies, mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, meaning there is damage in both the middle (or outer) ear and inner ear. Its causes can be a combination of anything from the conductive hearing loss side and the sensorineural hearing loss side. Treatment includes the use of hearing aids, medication, and surgery.

4. High-frequency hearing loss

High-frequency hearing loss is a form of sensorineural hearing loss characterized by an inability to perceive relatively high-frequency sounds. It can be caused by several factors, including aging, underlying illnesses, head injuries, exposure to blasts, loud music, industrial noises, genetics, or adverse reactions to a medication.

5. Single-sided deafness

Also known as unilateral hearing loss, single-sided deafness is a type of hearing loss where only one ear suffers impairment. Note that although health professionals prefer to reserve the term single-sided deafness for severe profound impairment cases, the terms can be used interchangeably.

Unilateral hearing loss can be categorized either under conductive hearing loss or sensorineural hearing loss, depending on the part of the ear that is affected. Common causes are similar to those behind bilateral hearing loss; illnesses, viral infections, ear and head injuries, adverse reactions to medication, noise exposure, and more.


These are the five most common types of hearing loss and their causes. If you suspect you have any of them, do not hesitate to check with a specialist as treatment is much easier when the condition is still in its infancy.