Sensorineural hearing loss is experienced when there is an issue with the inner ear parts (inner ear damage).
Conductive hearing loss is experienced when there is an issue with the outer to middle-ear area (e.g. impacted earwax or fluid that is preventing sound from being transmitted through the outer and middle parts to an individual’s inner ear).
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
What Is Defined As Mixed Hearing Loss?
A mixed hearing loss is an accumulation of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This implies there may be damage in both the outer and middle ears, as well as the inner ear.
Common causes include any of the causes of conductive hearing loss plus any of the causes of sensorineural hearing loss.
Some Possible Causes Of Mixed Hearing Loss Include:
What is the cause of mixed hearing loss (combination of the two)?
Sensorineural hearing loss (inner) can be caused by a variety of factors. Illness, medications, genetic causes, head trauma and/or inner ear malformation are examples of these.
While conductive hearing loss (outer to middle) can be caused by earwax (cerumen), fluids in the middle ear, ear infections, perforated eardrums, and/or malformations of the outer or middle ear, etc.
Outer To Middle Ear
- Obstruction in the ear canal – caused by wax build up
- Lumps and infections that are blocking the outer or middle ear
- Middle ear infection
- Fluid or wax stuck in the middle ear
- Deformed ear canal or irregular bone structure in the middle ear
- Microtia (rare birth defect in which the external ear is not completely developed)
- Normal aging
- Constant exposure to loud noises causing wear and tear
- Diseases such as: heart diseases, infections, Meniere’s disease, cancerous growth in the inner ear, autoimmune diseases
- Traumatic injuries
Mixed Hearing Loss Treatment Options
Outer to Middle Ear:
There are various medical or surgical therapies that may improve the hearing capability of individuals with conductive hearing loss. Medication therapy, such as ear wax extraction, antibiotics, or surgical procedures, can often cure conductive losses caused by wax impaction, foreign objects, abnormal growths, and ear infections.
Other causes of conductive hearing loss, such as ear canal narrowing, exostoses, otosclerosis, and ossicular chain disconnection, are more difficult to address medically and might be considered a lifelong impairment. Standard prescription hearing aids can be used to treat these conductive losses.
If the inner ear or auditory nerve’s tiny hair-like cells are damaged, there is no medical cure available. Sensorineural hearing loss may be treated with prescription hearing aids or cochlear implants, depending on how severe the damage is.