doctor using otoscope for patient's ear

What is Mixed Hearing Loss?

What is Mixed Hearing Loss?

Mixed hearing loss is the combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by nerve-related problems to the inner ear, while conductive hearing loss is caused by problems to the middle and outer ear. Therefore, with this type of hearing loss, there is damage to both the inner ear or auditory nerves and the middle or outer ear. 

When you have this type of hearing loss, sound either is not able to properly travel from the outer ear to the inner ear or be processed from the inner ear to the brain. This is what your ears experience when you have this type of hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss can be mild to severe. It can affect one ear, which is called unilateral hearing loss, or both ears, which is called bilateral hearing loss. It can appear suddenly or gradually over time depending on the cause.

outer ear, middle and inner ear diagram

Causes of Mixed Hearing Loss

There are different causes to mixed hearing loss. Any causes of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss can cause this type of hearing loss.

Causes include:

  • Sensorineural: The two most common causes to highlight are aging and noise exposure. As we age, our hearing naturally declines. When we expose ourselves to loud noise levels, we can damage our hearing. 
    • Aging
    • Noise exposure
    • Genetics
    • Birth conditions
    • Drugs and medications
  • Conductive: Causes for conductive hearing loss are associated with factors that block or damage the ear canal or middle ear. 
    • Ear infections
    • Fluid in ear from colds
    • Perforated eardrum
    • Foreign objects in ear
    • Impacted earwax

To treat this type of hearing loss, you can explore treatment options for both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is typically treated with hearing aids. There are several different types of hearing aids such as in-the-ear hearing aids and behind-the-ear hearing aids. For conductive hearing loss, there are surgical treatments available, depending on the cause of your conductive hearing loss. When exploring treatments for this type of hearing loss, you might need to try combinations of different treatments such as surgery and hearing aids.

How severe a person’s mixed hearing loss is dependent on the unique causes of hearing loss. It’s important to consult your doctor or hearing professional if you have concerns over your hearing health. 

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