Hearing Loss Types and Treatment

Jan 6, 2024


― Dr. Veethika Kapur - Audiologist & Speech Language Therapist

Hearing loss occurs when something affects the hearing system, leading to difficulties in understanding, following, or participating in conversations. It can impact various aspects of life, including work, communication, and overall enjoyment. While most hearing loss cannot be reversed, audiologists, specialized healthcare providers, can recommend treatments such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to alleviate the effects of hearing loss.

Prevalence: Hearing loss is common, affecting more than 1 in 10 people in the United States. It manifests in various forms, including unilateral hearing loss, age-related hearing loss in older adults, and congenital hearing loss in infants.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive Hearing Loss: Sound is hindered from passing through the outer or middle ear. Causes include earwax buildup, fluid in the middle ear, infections, or structural issues. 
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Inner ear damage over time, aging, illnesses, genetics, head injuries, or prolonged exposure to loud noise. Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is a rapid onset of sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss: Combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss affecting both outer/middle and inner ear.


Asking people to repeat themselves.

Difficulty following conversations, especially in noisy environments.

Muffled or unclear speech perception.

Inability to hear certain high-pitched sounds.

Needing to increase volume on electronic devices.

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Ear pain, pressure, or fluid sensation.

Balance problems or dizziness.


Physical examination by a healthcare provider.

Hearing tests such as pure-tone testing, Otoacoustic emissions test (OAE), and tympanometry.

Classification based on the degree of hearing loss: normal, slight, mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, profound.


Conductive Hearing Loss:

Medications (antibiotics for infections).

Surgeries (tympanoplasty, tympanostomy, tumor removal).

Procedures to remove earwax or foreign objects.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss:

Medications (corticosteroids to reduce swelling in the cochlea).

Management with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Mixed Hearing Loss:

Varied treatments based on specific issues affecting the outer, middle, and inner ear.


Avoidance of loud environments without protection (earplugs or earmuffs).

Volume control when using headphones or earbuds.

Caution against inserting objects into the ear canal.

Smoking cessation.

Regular exercise and management of chronic illnesses.


Emotional impact: feeling disconnected, frustration, irritability, anxiety, depression.

Academic challenges for children with hearing loss.

Association between hearing loss in older adults and dementia.

Outlook and Recovery

Recovery varies based on the type and severity of hearing loss.

Treatment options may include surgeries, medications, or hearing devices.

Post-treatment, maintaining good vocal hygiene and preventive measures is essential.

Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers and audiologists are recommended.

Conclusion: Hearing loss is a prevalent condition with various causes and manifestations. Early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and preventive measures play crucial roles in managing its impact on individuals' lives. Regular check-ups, lifestyle modifications, and timely interventions contribute to better outcomes for those experiencing hearing loss.